November 26, 2020
by Tom Quinn
Creighton University's School of Medicine
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 506

Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9
Psalm 100:2, 3, 4, 5
Luke 21:20-28

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Whenever I read from Revelations, I am overwhelmed by the flood of symbolic language. Much like a deep, abstract, free-verse poem, every word evokes an image or emotion. Babylon, the enemy, appears as a “harlot” who has led the world astray by “magic”. Babylon is a cage of demons and unclean creatures that will be thrown into the sea like a millstone.

At this point, most of us, as sinners, may feel a little uneasy. Is this passage referring to a life style to which we have become accustomed? More than ever, we are tempted from all sides. The “magic” of Babylon is present in our day, but we have a most powerful alternative; we have been invited by God to the “wedding feast of the Lamb.” We ask ourselves, “do we truly need, want, or even deserve, this invitation to choose God’s way of life?” We should be reassured by the responsorial psalm today: “blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” God has made the choice clear for us. We may choose a figurative cage of demons, or a sumptuous feast at His table.

It may be more difficult in our times to escape the influence of the great merchants of Babylon who preach the glory of the world. How often do we have an opportunity to be free of the attractions of our complex world? All of the readings today indicate that the life of “Babylon” will be destroyed, but how are we, meanwhile, to find respite from that life? Jesus warns us in the Gospel of calamities that will befall the “city “(i.e., our way of life). He tells us to flee to the solitude of the mountains; leave the turmoil of the city; stay in the countryside; and do not enter the city. Like Jesus often did, we need to find time alone for prayer and reflection. Jesus tells us that the times of punishment when the scriptures are fulfilled will cause some people to die of fright. He promises one thing to assuage our fear during those times. He has promised to come to us in power and glory. His promise is redemption. Stand erect, and raise your heads! Whatever calamity befalls us, we will be ready, and we will be saved. God has promised this.

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