Thursday, January 26, 2017

God of Risks

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 

When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth. 

But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. 
(Revelation 11: 4-12)

Today let's ponder the words of the Book of Revelation. If we are to be the “Light of the World”, we must expect to be persecuted. Ours is a God of risks. Remember, the Author of Life Himself was crucified. However, death could not hold Him captive. Similarly, the witnesses of Revelation were raised up and taken into their Heavenly Homeland.

The two olive trees and two lampstands brings to mind how Jesus sent out the disciples “two by two and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits” (Mk. 6:7). Living a gospel life requires the help and support of a brother, of a sister. We cannot live the Gospel in isolation. We need one another. That being said, while we are called to be one in Christ, we are not called to look nor to act identically. The strength of the Church is in its diversity of gifts. The two witnesses testified to the paschal victory of Christ, sealing their testimony with their deaths.

If we listen to Pope Francis, we hear him saying that Christians are called to bear witness to the work of God in the world. As witnesses of Christ, we are raised up to speak against the neglect of human dignity and to defend the truth. As witnesses of Christ we are commissioned to speak against indifference to the poor and abuse of the earth, our common Mother. As witnesses of Christ, we are challenged to be burning and shining lights in a world that is wrapped in darkness. In Christ’s faithful witnesses is found the manifestation of God’s love and mercy for the world. God’s witnesses must not grow weary of giving service nor should they flee suffering. In their weakness, they manifest God’s strength. In their apparent defeat, they testify to God’s ultimate victory.

God has not given us the spirit of timidity or fear. Rather, He has poured into our hearts the Spirit of power, courage and endurance so as to meet the challenges that confront us. With the help of the Spirit we will be able to bear afflictions so as to proclaim the Glory of Grace. It is in Him that we live, and move and have our being. When He comes to reveal Himself as the One Who conquered death, may He bring us all together into everlasting life.

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

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