Sunday Scripture readings, April 24, 2022: An unobtrusive key
Second Sunday of Easter
Sunday of Divine Mercy
‘When we gather for the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s day, we too are in the presence of God and his Christ.’
1) Acts 5:12-16
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
2) Rv 1:9-13, 17-19
Gospel: Jn 20:19-31
The Book of Revelation — source of our second reading today — is a strange book. It is filled with mysterious, puzzling, even bizarre images that tumble out chapter after chapter in a sequence of broken scroll seals, trumpet blasts, thunders and sloshing bowls of wrath. Blindingly bright visions of heaven alternate with terrifying pictures of destruction and suffering on earth.
Various keys have been offered to unlock Revelation’s messages. Some of them involve elaborate schemes of interpretation, matching symbols in the book with historical events from the first century to the present. Whether any of these keys fit the lock is doubtful, given the way their conclusions diverge.
One rather simple key to the book appears in today’s reading. It is a little item mentioned in passing. The author, John, notes that the book began when he was caught up in the Spirit and began to receive visions “on the Lord’s day.”
John is connecting with his readers here. They are going to receive his writing on the Lord’s day. It is going to be read aloud to them when they gather in homes to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, the day when Jesus rose from the dead.
How is this a key to the book? The author is letting them know that his visions have a direct significance for them as they celebrate the Lord’s Supper. His visions of heaven show them the unseen reality of their community event: They too are in the presence of God the creator and Jesus the redeemer.
Although they are just little groups, the God who is with them is the one who exercises lordship over all of reality — as reflected in the lurid visions of chastisement and judgment.
In today’s reading, John recounts his first, rather simple vision. He sees Jesus, dressed as a priest, surrounded by seven lamp stands. Jesus is taking care of the lamps. The lamps symbolize the local church communities. The vision symbolizes Jesus’ presence in his churches, his care for them.
John’s mention of the Lord’s day is a key to the book for us too. It helps us see the book’s assurance that when we gather for the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s day, we too are in the presence of God and his Christ. Our communities, too, are in his care. With mercy, he is close to us.
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Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.