Readings: Apocalypse 20:1-4, 11 - 21:2; Psalm 84; Luke 21:29-33
The fundamental battle of the Apocalypse is the battle between life and death, and it is also the final battle. The passage we read today speaks of the death of death and of hell. The One who is risen from among the dead now holds the keys of death and of hell. He is for life, and is Life Itself. To Him is brought the Book of Life in which the names of the just are written. The just are raised from the dead for the moment of vindication when all that has been unjust will be rectified, all that has been oppressed will be liberated, all that has been trampled down will be allowed to grow and flourish once again.
Another image is that of the bride. She is the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, the holy city established in the new heavens and the new earth, prepared as a bride to meet her husband. The city is the place teeming wth life. It is the place of society and community and communion. Marriage is about life too, a fulness of personal life in this highest of friendships which marriage is. There is no human communion that brings us closer to the Divine mystery of love. There is no human relationship that serves as well to illustrate how God is towards His people.
And the bride and groom want life for each other. They celebrate each other's life and they celebrate their life together. One of the mysteries closest to us is the conception of children, the fruit of this kind of love and friendship, actual new lives being produced from the love of bride and groom, their love translated in the form of new human beings. The French philosopher Gabriel Marcel wrote that to say 'I love you' is to say 'you will not die'. The lover cannot contemplate the death of his beloved. Not just sentimentally but metaphysically: to love another person and to think of that person ceasing to be are contradictory, incompatible thoughts.
My words will not pass away, Jesus says in the gospel reading. This generation will not pass away before these things come to pass. He speaks to us of immortality, of realities that will not cease to be. The life he brings, the life he is, will not cease to be. And its power is seen most clearly in the moment that seems like its greatest weakness. Entering into death the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the Son of Man who will come on the clouds of heaven, destroys death forever. He restores life, and a fulness of life, calling us forward into that same experience, to die with him to sin and evil and the powers of death in order to rise to life and light in the holy city where our joy will be to sing forever the glories of our Beloved.