Zechariah 4-6; Revelation 13

Revelation 13:10 “Anyone destined for captivity goes into captivity.  Anyone destined to be slain by the sword shall be slain by the sword.  Such is the faithful endurance of the holy ones.”  Revelation 13 is arguably the most famous – or infamous – book of the Bible today, with it hateful, terrible beasts visiting tyranny and persecution on the world, and of course the number of the Beast, 666.  Such scenarios seem laughable to us in America, getting that classic Will Smith “Nawww…” reaction, we with our Constitution, principled judges, and selfless politicians and all.  But there are Christians right now living Revelation 13 in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, dying with the name of Jesus on their lips.  I’m almost 60 years old, and see clearly the trends that illuminate this section from the Catechism:

675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. the supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.

677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.  The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.  God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.

K. Chesterton said the sign of a society in decline was that what formerly was called good was being called evil, and what was formerly evil good. When a high school football coach invites his team to join him in prayer is an evil thing…you get my point. Yet the challenges we may face today and in the future as Christians are good things.  There is no virtue in comfortable, slothful affluence. No pain, no gain so to speak.  I’m just not crazy for pain, because it hurts dammit!  Nonetheless, I ask the Holy Spirit that no fear or earthly preoccupations separate me from the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

GOD’S ANSWER:  My Son’s Passion is a perfect model of response to suffering.  Reflect on it every day.

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