How to understand the privileged times in which we are living
In last week’s feast of the Baptism of Jesus we had themes of the One of great power and favour; but also the One who would immerse Himself fully in our human condition, take on the effects of sin and become the servant of all to lead all who would follow to salvation.
In John’s Gospel the theology is similar: Jesus is the One on whom the Spirit rests and the Lamb for slaughter, sacrificed for sin. John’s theology is deeper, and because it’s deeper he has made symbolic the Person and actions of the Lord. This allows us to know in a more crystallised way who is this Jesus Who offers His life in sacrifice to take away sin and to make a new covenant between man and God.
And there’s certain themes in John. The Jews had a blood ritual of sacrificing lambs. John understands Jesus’ death in terms of that Passover sacrifice. Instead of lambs being slaughtered as a sin offering Jesus was. Hence John identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God offered in Sacrifice once and for all (c.f., Hebrews 10:10).
The curiosity is that the Church takes Jesus’ words “do this in memory of me” to be a command to perpetuate the Lord’s Sacrifice. The logic is that what happened once and for all must be applied through time. Fulfilling the Lord’s command the one Sacrifice of the Lamb is perpetuated and applied every time we celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass.
This is consistent with what we see in the symbolism in the book of Revelation. Reading the Apocalypse we have this vision of the victory of the slain Lamb (5:6). To share this victory in heaven with his Body on earth, He unrolls a scroll just like unwrapping a present. As He does this the chorus in heaven is, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5: 10).
What is going on is that Jesus is dispensing the fruits of His Sacrifice over time to the members of His Body. The beautiful thing is that just as the Spirit came upon Jesus at His Baptism — which we heard in today’s Gospel, the Spirit comes upon the Church every time it celebrates the Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the source of every grace because every time the Sacrifice is celebrated the Church once again receives the grace of the Holy Spirit. And this is given to complete its mission and reign on earth as the Lamb reigns in heaven.
What is this mission? The Church must undergo its own Passover. The Catechism says “The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through [its] final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven” (677).
What we see in the world and what we are experiencing in our Church is leading up to God’s victory where the Church will Triumphantly undergo its own Passover. The Church, the Body of Christ, is about to follow the Lord in His death and Resurrection. Only then will she be triumphant and be reborn. Only then will the new era begin and the new covenant take full effect. Hopefully, this reflection will help you understand the privileged times in which we are living.
The Gospel is the fulfilment of the prophecy of Malachi that the Lord would suddenly enter His temple. The prophecy goes on to explain the that through ‘this appearing’ of the Lord God’s people would be purified and then their offering would be acceptable to God.
This unfolds through the presentation of the baby Jesus where God returned to His Temple in human form. It was God’s plan to send his Son — the Word made flesh — to a humanity broken and wounded by sin, to enfold us once again in grace through the admirable exchange of natures, and to restore us to true life in God.
Because of sin, something had to give for this restoration and exchange to occur. And this is what Luke anticipates when he tells the story of Jesus’ infant presentation in parallel with the prophecy of the last moments in Jesus’ life. It is on the Cross that He will once again be presented to God. The difference is that on the Cross the Lord presents His own life to God. It is this future Passion of the Christ to which Simeon and Anna allude: The infant was the salvation prepared by God Who would deliver Israel but was to be rejected.
There is something very important to understand here. Yes, Jesus came to present Himself and willingly offer His life in Sacrifice to restore us to life in God. But the fruit of Jesus’ Sacrifice must be apportioned to each one of us. This means that we, the Church, must continue to apply ‘that’ Salvation won by Jesus by presenting Herself to God. This happens through the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Lumen Gentium 11 reads, “Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, [the Church] offers the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It (i.e., the Sacrifice).” We present and offer ourselves with Jesus to the Father every time we celebrate Mass, and through the merit of His Sacrifice, we are purified and made acceptable to God.
Just think that today, as we celebrate Eucharist, the Sacrifice of Christ is perpetuated through time and throughout human history. Today we present ourselves to God in union with the Lord. And today we are purified by once again being made acceptable to God. Thanks be to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light — “REPENT, for the kingdom is at hand!”
The readings are about the joy of the emerging Light that shines to enlighten the hearts of men and women, calling us to freedom by following Christ. The heavy yoke — the burden of sin — can be left behind as we break free to follow that Light of Life.
Repentance or turning away from sin is necessary to be able to follow the Light or, as Jesus puts it, to enter the kingdom. Hence, to be able to undergo this journey we need to form our conscience to know what is sin, and what is of God.
Our aim is to live in the Light. Otherwise said, this is the integration of our life in God’s so that our attitudes, desires, memories (conscious and non-conscious) and our will — all allow our inner being to open out to God to ‘stand’ before Him in peace. When we have no fear and nothing to hide, then our love has come to perfection and every fibre in us is lovingly directed to God.
Again the way to live in this Light is follow our conscience. As our conscience can be erroneous (and often is) we need to correct it and continuously form it through following the commandments, by adhering to the precepts of the Church, by being obedient to our superiors, by being guided by the Word of God and the Church’s teachings, by a regular exam and frequent confession, and overall by submitting ourselves to Christ.
There are three stages in this education in freedom, i.e. to form our conscience so we can be set free to follow the Light of Christ. The 1st is to accept the discipline of life, based on rules and moral laws. The 2nd stage is inward. We must train ourselves through prayer to listen as “deep within our conscience we discover a law which he has not laid upon us but which we must obey. The voice of this law, ever calling us to love and do what is good and to avoid evil, tells us inwardly at the right moment: do this; shun that. For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God” (Catechism, 1776).
The 3rd stage is mastery of our actions and the union of our will, desires, attitudes etc. with God. When we have mastered living in the Light we come to peace, we come to union with God, and we desire only what God wants.
This 3rd stage is what we all must aim for — to be set free to live in the Light. Only then will we be prepared for that great day of judgment which will then be for us the day we are set free from the limitations of this world by entering the next, covered in the glory of Christ. Please God, Amen!
Prologue: We have just listened to the story of the Lord’s Baptism where Jesus is revealed by God, as God’s Son. This feast is linked to the Epiphany where the Christ child is revealed as God’s light bearer for all peoples and also with the miracle at Cana where Jesus reveals His own glory. All three events are epiphanies or manifestations of Christ.
Today’s feast day reflection: This feast is a great Epiphany of God. God is spelling it out for us, “this is my Son, the Beloved.” ‘Look, see and hear this is someone special Who is entrusted My blessing, and has favour in My eyes.’ Yet, according to the prophet Isaiah He is to be our ‘servant’ and the one to set others free.
Although this Epiphany is of the One of great power and favour it’s puzzling that Our Lord was to be the one to serve and become least of all, and ultimately hang dying on the Cross. This confounds us as we associate being special with being served by others. We associate favour with being shown favours.
Similarly the encounter with God’s Beloved was perplexing for John. Figuring Jesus was exalted by God he figured himself as not being worthy to undo his sandal strap, let alone Baptise Him. So John questioned Jesus’ need of Baptism from him, protesting his need of Baptism from the Lord. What was Jesus’ reply? “It is fitting,” so John gave in.
Isn’t that curious? Why was it fitting? The answer of the Lord’s need of Baptism isn’t in the spectacle of the descent of the Spirit, nor the voice from heaven “this is my Son, the Beloved.” Jesus didn’t need this to happen.
Yes, it was important and necessary, but for his disciples and all who would follow him through the centuries. ‘We’ needed to know He was the chosen Messiah so ‘we’ could follow after Him and His example.
The importance of Jesus’ Baptism — and why it was fitting — was not because of the Epiphany that revealed Jesus’ solidarity between Him and God. Rather, it revealed the Son of God’s willing solidarity between Him who is God, and us human beings. Through Baptism God’s divine Son was immersed fully into the human condition, including that of sin and its effects.
Having established this solidarity, Jesus was able to reinstate humanities broken relationship with God. He, the true servant of God, immersed Himself in the human condition so He could atone for human sin.
The Lords’ Baptism is a sign given that we recognise the One to Whom we must follow in faith. But, above all, it was a sign of Jesus’ love, and His complete dedication of His life to the human state. The eternal Lord Who was with God in the beginning, consented to spend the rest of His eternity a human being.
This feast also then, speaks to the dignity of human nature; of what it is to be born a male or female, after the image of God. If you are ever feeling down and sorry for yourself think of this dignity and the destiny to which we are called because of Jesus’ willingness to give Himself completely to us on the day of his Baptism.
Dear friends, we are living in uncharted times. I mean jokes are trending on social media about WW3. And yes, the climate is changing (as Our Lady of All Nations warned, referring to changes in nature). Has communism come again (c.f., seers of Garabandal) signifying the immediacy of the warning or illumination of conscience? Is the Pope going to flee Rome? Who is the Pope? Many things come to mind thinking of the times in which we are living — but is there any certainty we are entering the end times?
Let us ask this question in another way: Do we have reason to think that the day of the Lord is upon us? Yes — because the great apostasy we are experiencing is that which St Paul warned of as being the sign of its coming. He says about “the day of the Lord” that it “will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:2–3). And here we are in the age of rebellion and lawlessness, even within the Church.
To my mind, the real sign of the times is the Apostasy in the Church. Cardinal Müller warned last year about “the last trial of the Church …[leading to] religious delusion …apostasy …[and] the fraud of Antichrist. We all know Fatima, La Salette, Akita etc. and we all know how the Church hierarchy has ignored the Mother of God. So yes, I believe that the Church has compromised its faith and has apostatised, therefore it is my belief that the seals of the scroll in the book of Revelation (chapters 5–8) are ‘being opened.’ NB: For me, the apostasy is associated with the opening of the seals upon the earth, as they were opened in heaven (herein is the weakness in my argument).
In this case we are about to experience the full ‘unfolding’ of the Lord’s victory — with the breaking of the seals — within the members of the Church as it happened to the Lord Himself, i.e. the Passion of the Church is to follow the Passion of the Christ. In this way the Church will be purified and reborn.
St Victorinus once wrote that “after the Lord ascended into heaven and opened all things, He sent the Holy Spirit, whose words the preachers sent forth as arrows reaching to the human heart, that they might overcome unbelief.” Can you see that as the seals have been opened in heaven they are also to be opened on earth, to manifest the Lord’s victory?
Again, as the Lord celebrates victory (over death, sin, and the devil) in heaven, this victory is meaningless unless it is for the Church that is to “reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). The Lord wills His Body to share in His victory and has taught her to pray for it asking that the Lord’s “kingdom come …on earth as it is in heaven.”
Let’s look at the 1st horseman. The symbolism is not of ‘the Christ’, but of ‘the Christian.’ And the Christian has the bow of victory because all Christians are anointed by the Spirit! What is a reality in heaven undertaken by the Church that is called to freely participate in the Redemption won by Our Lord.
The 1st horseman is the Church that shares in Christ’s victory “to exact vengeance upon the nations, to impose punishment on the peoples …to carry out the sentence that has been passed” (Psalm 149) on those who refuse the coming kingdom of Christ. The kingdom is at hand as the Christian Church manifest Christ’s victory over that of the kingdom of this world. In this way the members of Christ’s Body become judgement upon those who refuse God’s anointed. Instead of Jesus, we now become a stumbling stone (Matthew 21:44) to them.
The 2nd horseman with sword and who “takes peace from the earth,” naturally follows. Why? Because after judgement, separation and division follows. Jesus himself said “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). This isn’t to be taken literally. The reason for the conflict is because “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh” (Galatians 5:17). However, as the Lord alludes, the sword will come by those of the flesh who, having refused God, will wage war against the godly.
The 3rd horseman is with scales and cries “a ration of wheat for a day’s wages.” We see this symbolic injustice in the rorting in Venezuela. Because of this their economic system is in collapse. At 10 000 000% inflation “a ration of wheat costs [more than] a day’s pay” whilst the elite lack no luxury. Economic chaos and famine are coming with the breaking of the third seal: justice and the rule of law will not be tolerated. Most recently, Chile is experiencing the breaking of the 3rd seal.
The 4th seal leads to massive deaths by the “sword, famine, and plague.” War, famine, abortion, euthanasia, super-bugs resistant to antibiotics …sword, famine, and plague are going to come upon us like never before. The sense is that death comes with the unbridled or “the final unleashing of evil” (Catechism, 677).
I think these 4 seals are the foundation of ‘the opposition.’ This opposition isn’t between footy teams rather the Spirit-filled Church manifesting Christ’s victory versus the ungodly. There’s judgement, division, war, and death. What’s next? World-wide revolution.
The 5th seal is born of this revolt. The fifth seal is persecution. Why? Darkness hates the light. Pretty simple but it is happening. In Australia the Word of God is now hate speech, the seal of confessional must be broken in certain circumstances and this is mandated by law, those who pray outside abortion clinics are the ‘criminals’ in the eyes of the nation etc. Last week my niece told me that priests are leaving Santiago because of persecution — and she knows because she lives there. This persecution is just emerging. Pray God that an open persecution of the Church does not happen, but Scripture indicates that it will.
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained” (Revelation 6:9)
When the Church seems to be destroyed the opening of the 6th seal will bring about the warning –the illumination of souls– which I believe is to prepare us for the Great Day of retribution for “who can face it” otherwise (c.f., Revelation 6:17)?
Regarding this warning Our Lady gave us a message via Fr. Stefano Gobbi. Our Lady says, “The Holy Spirit will come to establish the glorious reign of Christ…With His divine love, He will open the doors of hearts and illuminate all consciences. Every person will see himself in the burning fire of divine truth. It will be like a judgement in miniature. And then Jesus Christ will bring His glorious reign in the world” (May 1988). Hence, the warning will be as a second Pentecost or second birth for the Church, in preparation for the Church’s final purification.
The 7th seal refers to this purification as “fire from the altar is hurled down onto the earth.” More than this we don’t know; we can only guess and be open to the Spirit. The Catechism says that the “Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection” (Catechism 677). This is scary stuff referring to the coming of the antichrist and the Church’s ultimate trial.
It seems that the end times are ahead of us. Don’t be afraid, be faithful. As Pope Benedict XVI always said, “the Lord wins in the end!” What I will urge you is that you belong to the Holy Mother of God and point out that the key to our preparedness is our conversion, not knowing dates. Let Mary guide you to her Son, and in fact, lead you to His Holy Cross whatever form it may take in your life.
My final suggestion is that you read and pray about St John Bosco’s dream that indicates how our Holy Mother Church will prevail by securing itself to the two great pillars: Eucharist and Mary. And below is some of what the Church teaches about the great trial to come.
God have mercy on us poor sinners!
From the Catechism: The Church’s ultimate trial
675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.