Feast of All Saints, November 1
For peresecuted early Christians, in language crafted to conceal its meaning from the persecutors, we hear a confident prediciton of God's triumph.
For communities struggling with doctrinal disputes and membership issues, a Christian sage offers some consoling advice at the highest level.
Like a new Moses, Jesus ascends a mount in order to deliver a new law. It will contrast significantly with the old.
Proclaiming It: Your proclamation should capture the awe which the visionary John is trying to convey. He's telling us details of a scene we can't hope to witness in this life. It's not your grade school essay about your family's summer vacation. Read the passage to yourself several times and try to imagine the scene in your own mind. My father once said that when they make a movie of the Book of Revelation, it should be a Cecil B. DeMille production. Well, there's your assignment: All the grandeur of a Hollywood epic, conveyed with your voice alone.
A Theological Reflection: Notice that there are two groups described as present in huge numbers: one from every tribe of the Israelites, and another from every race, nation, people and tongue. John understood that God's plan calls for the salvation of all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. This universalism was obnoxious to some Jews, and led to their throwing Christian Jews out of the synagogues. These Christian Jews felt deep grief at this separation, as well as uneasiness about mixing it up with pagans, even pagan Christians. (We must note that the persecutors mentioned above were not Jews but Romans.) John predicts the eventual reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles, and so encourages his readers to embrace each other in this life as they will in the next.
To the best of our knowledge, the original recipients of the first letter of John were specific Christian communities,
From the Orthodox Church, an icon of all saints. The picture is reproduced on many web pages, of which one very interesting is here, a page of icons of Eastern saints who evangelized the West "pre-schism", that is, before 1,000 A.D. The page asserts that its collection of icons is "an indicative but prayerful reminder to all the peoples of the present-day European Continent that our Holy Orthodox Faith, in the person of all the Saints who had evangelized its inhabitants during the first millennium A.D., is the only secure foundation upon which European unity should be built and continued." I disagree, but I accept the implied reproach of my ignorance about history, the Christian East and whatever efforts are under way to re-unite us.
Lector's Notes should be easily readable on any device, including small-screen ones like cell phones and tablets. This is among the first of a few hundred pages to be converted to a responsive format (responsive to the kind of screen you are using). So when you're not serving as lector, and you arrive at church and mute your cell phone, you can brief yourself on the readings you're about to hear. Format conversion is a work-in-progress and will be so until maybe April of 2018.
This page updated November 7, 2015