Vision of the Living One


My reflections on the Apocalypse will disclose the two perspectives that I bring to its interpretation. The first is that the Passion of Christ is the Passion of the Church. The second is that this Passion of the Church is being played out as a liturgical drama in the church. The drama has a view towards the enthronement of the divine. Before this happens there is the battle between the divine and the counter-divine, Christ and the Counter-Christ. As I continue my meditation on the Apocalypse I am witness to a magnificent scene that goes to the end of the first chapter. Last time the narrative ended with the self-designation of the divine in terms of the three modes of time. This section begins with John’s identification of himself and his relationship to the seven churches. A vision immediately unfolds before him, by which he is commissioned to write what he sees, and what he sees is the mystery of the divine one, capable of being described only in human terms, but awesome in aspect. John fell as though dead, reminding us that to gaze upon the unhidden face of the divine is sure death. But the divine one does not allow death to reign in its presence. John is revived, blessed by the touch of the right hand of the risen one, who makes clear who he is. “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.” John is in the presence of the living one, the one who reigns forever. It is this divine, living one who stands over the seven churches. John is commanded to write to the angels of the churches, angels-stars being the ancient designation of powers that hold sway over the people. However, the living one already holds the angels-stars and the seven churches in its right hand, meaning that now dominion is given to the living one. The churches are no longer subject to earthly powers, but to the power of Christ, the living one. What the churches will receive from John is a verification, a truth-telling message, that no matter what kind of tribulation and suffering they will undertake, they will do so as a faithful congregation already held in the hand of the divine, living one. In this is the hope of the church under tribulation. In this is the hope of all who suffer. In this is the hope of each one. In this is my hope. “I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.”

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