Sunday, May 6, 2007

Year C, 5th Sunday of Easter, Vespers

Reading: Rev 21,1-5a

As we make our way through Easter, we continue reading from St. John’s Revelation. Without doubt Revelation is the most misunderstood and over-interpreted book in all of sacred scripture. Indeed, St. John’s Apocalypse is a dense and opaque work. Nonetheless, like all books of scripture, it is God’s word for us and says not just something, but many things to us. Therefore, we interrogate our text in order to see what God, through this lectio, says to us.

John, as he beholds the new Jerusalem, which we see so beautifully depicted in the apse of our Cathedral, with the saints of the new covenant to the right of our Crucified Lord and the holy men and women of the first covenant, which, like the new covenant, is everlasting (Rom 11,1-7), to His left, hears the loud voice say: "Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God" (Rev 21,3).

These words resonate through all of sacred scripture, across both covenants. In Genesis, God tells Abraham, our father in faith (Rom 4,16), that, in addition to giving his descendants the land of Canaan in which to dwell, He will be their God (Gen 17,8). In Exodus God tells the children of Israel "I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God" (Ex 6,7). Through the prophet Jeremiah, God says to Israel: "Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you" (Jer 7,23). This promise is reiterated and reaffirmed at least four other times in the Law and in the prophets (Lev 26,12; Jer 11,4; 30,22; Ezk 36,28).

It has been God’s divine will since before the beginning of time, to make His dwelling with the human race. It is by becoming one of us in Jesus Christ that God fulfills His deepest desire. It is to make His dwelling with us that God created us, sent His Son to redeem us, and who now sanctifies and divinizes us, most especially in and through the Eucharist, which is the new and everlasting covenant (Matt 26,28; Mk 14,24; Lk 22,20; 1 Cor 11,25). At the beginning of the liturgy of the Eucharist, when pouring the water into the wine, the minister utters an inaudible prayer: "By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share our humanity." Hence, it is through the Eucharist that God makes his dwelling not only with us, but in us. In this promise, this covenant, we learn the meaning of the words of the “One who sat on the throne,” when said, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev 21,5a).

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