Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 506: Rev. 18:1-2.21-23. 19:1-3,9. Psalm
100:22.214.171.124. Luke 21:20-28.
Two great cities are mentioned in our readings today. The first is Rome
under the pseudonym Babylon. Revelation gives us the details of its
crumbling under its own corruption–most of which is in the area of
economics and buying and celling to its clients called the merchants. Rome
is far from being the city we know today! Then in the Gospel the great
holy city of Jerusalem is mentioned but in the context of its destruction
by the Romans. We have the tale of two cities in the readings and Charles
Dickens had nothing to do with these narratives. The destruction of both
cities is total according to these biblical accounts.
Rome represents the greed, the worthlessness of its economic power and its
powerful domination over the rest of peoples especially the land where
Jesus lived. The Jewish writer of the Apocalypse can only identify it with
Babylon– greed and lust are leading to its downfall and the emergence of
Jesus as Victor over its evils of all sorts in commerce and warfare.
Symbolic language is used throughout Revelation and this makes sense for
the author, John of Patmos, is describing his ecstatic visions of the
Jerusalem is destroyed because of its failure to live up to the covenant of
God and also its inability to withstand the power of the Roman military
force. We may ask is there any hope for Jerusalem, for Rome? The answer is
yes for today these two cities stand and are admired by most peoples.
Somehow the holiness of Jerusalem is sensed. Luke love it enough to make it
the center of his Gospel geography and theology and also his Acts of the
Apostles. And today the beauty of both cities continues to admire
pilgrims, vacationers, and curious travelers.
Both cities need to be seen within the perspective of the plan of salvation
that God has for them.
We are speaking of the perspective of the Scriptures and not of the secular
press here. The covenant has been renewed by many faithful believers and
the person of Jesus stands out for Christians in both cities as they
reflect on the meaning of so many sacre places in these cities. It is
through the faithful believers and the peace makers that both of these
cities figure in the future peace that we all hope for.
Yes, this is a tale of two cities. This tale however is real and historical
and is not simply a literary masterpiece.
Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the peace that Rome can help
bring about. Amen.