The Book of Revelation and the Gospel of Luke
The two scriptures brought together these last two weeks in our lectionary are an interesting combination. The Book of Revelation with its stark imagery of the destruction the end times brings is paired with the Gospel of Luke.
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.
She has become a haunt for demons.
She is a cage for every unclean spirit,
a cage for every unclean bird,
a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast. A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone
and threw it into the sea and said: ‘With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down, and will never be found again.’ (Rev 18: 24-26)
Luke’s Gospel recalls Jesus and his disciples entering Jerusalem, the city sparkling with its almost completed temple. The disciples are dazzled by the massive new structure. There will not not one stone left on other, Jesus says, warning of the frail world we live in. Yet, Jesus is much more optimistic about life in this world than Revelation is. He speaks of the mercy of God. On his way to Jerusalem he keeps calling sinners. He does so even as he dies on the cross. He never looks at the world as unredeemable. He calls the tax collector, Zachaeus, but he never tells him to give up his job. He warns against burying your talent in the ground. Not matter how bad the times are, we have something to do. He also said not to search into the time and day the Son of Man will come. Our cross is a daily cross, Jesus says. He will help us bear it till he comes again.
The best commentators on scripture are the scriptures themselves, St. Augustine taught, and so we read the Book of Revelation and the Gospel of Luke together.
At our evening prayer we read from the Book of Revelation frequently but not its grim passages about the fall of Babylon. We read the beautiful promises of life beyond this. At the end of the day, we go into the night listening to the songs they are singing in heaven. There’s going to be a great day.