Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The End

“One of the seven angels…showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God” (Revelation 21:9-11). The present life, with all its pain and limitations, will not last forever. If you get discouraged or weighed down under the burdens of life, go to the last two chapters of the Bible (Revelation 21-22) and see how it all turns out in the end. There is beauty, glory, joy, peace, the face-to-face experience of the living God, “and there shall be no more death or mourning, crying or pain, for the former things have passed away” (21:4).

Despite all its fearful beasts and obscure symbolism, the Book of Revelation is meant to be a powerful encouragement for those who “keep the faith.” The world of that time was corrupt, as is ours, though back then evil was not publicly and consistently called good in the slippery ways that it is today. The idolaters and fornicators knew they were precisely that, and they publicly “cursed the God of heaven” (16:11). Today’s idolaters and fornicators are “redefining the divine and bringing spirituality into daily life, even if daily life includes sex and bar-hopping” (from a review of Donna Freitas’ Becoming the Goddess of Inner Poise).

But maintain good courage and hope, cries the final book of the Bible! All smokescreens will one day vanish, all veils will be lifted, all deceptions unmasked, all evil and all good clearly seen for what they really are. This was also prophesied by Malachi: “Then once more you shall distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:18). It is more detailed in Revelation. Inside the radiant and pure dwelling place of God are those who persevered in time of trial, who kept the faith, who held fast to the truth and “washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb.” Outside are the apostates and evildoers: “As for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur” (21:8).

So where do you want to be, in or out? Bear patiently the trials of life, persevere in the truth of Scripture and the Tradition of the Church, and “be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Philippians 2:15-16). One day—make no mistake, the day will come—the heavenly Jerusalem will be manifested in all its irresistible divine beauty and splendor. Then the gates will open to those who were faithful in good times and bad. Hold fast till the end. You’ll be forever glad you did.