FRIDAY OF THE THIRTY FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Revelation 20:1-4, 11:1-21:2
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Psalm 84: 2-5A, 7A
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you.
They go from strength to strength.
He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
In today’s reading from Revelations, we see a representation of the final battle. We see the enemy as a beast , come to steal, kill, and destroy. However, even the years where he’s allowed to work to lead others astray, those days are numbered. God has the enemy on a leash, but the one area that God will not control is our free will. What matters is how people choose to respond to evil. Do they allow themselves to be led astray and fall under submission to the beast? Or do they fight for truth, even if it leads to their death? At the end of it all, the Lord promises a new heaven and a new earth. He promises healing, wholeness, and life.
In the gospel, Jesus calls upon the crowds to be discerning. He points out to them that they know how to predict the weather, so they are capable of discernment of good and evil. We can discern that the Kingdom of God is near. The psalmist longs for the courts of the Lord: "My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." As God's creation, we desire nothing more deeply than intimacy with God. But to yearn for the Lord we have to admit that the desires of our flesh and the desires of this earth are never going to truly satisfy us.
Do I yearn for heaven and do my everyday actions display this? Recognizing that in God alone, I will find strength, do I go to the word of God for wisdom?
Today, remember that even when we see the world around us falling into greater and greater sin, we are still able to choose for God and holiness. Our free will will not be taken away. Trust in God and yearn for Him knowing that He will fulfill His promises.