sexta-feira, 24 de julho de 2015

SOWERS OF PEACE


After this I looked,
and there before me was a great multitude
that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
They were wearing white robes
and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Revelation 7:9 (read 7:9-17) - NIV

The book of Revelation was written to strengthen the persecuted Christians of that time. It is likely that the author felt cornered before the merciless persecution of the Roman Empire against the followers of Jesus. Apparently there were few people who were resisting the pressure to renounce their faith in Jesus. Christians looked like an "endangered species". In the middle of the crisis the author had a vision showing that this was not so. The people of faith actually included an innumerable multitude of people "from every nation, tribe, people and language." It was a number greater than anyone could imagine.

Revelation is a book which is very difficult for the vast majority of Christians of our time to interpret for the simple reason that they are not a persecuted minority. Rather, in most of the Western world they are a majority although fragmented into with various groups with rivalries and different trends. Some of these groups consider themselves to be the true Christians and do not recognize the legitimacy of the others. Others are more tolerant, but they do not commune with others. The Book of Revelation does not address the reality of present day Christianity.

Christianity today has more in common with the ancient Roman Empire than with the faithful persecuted Christians of the early centuries of the Christian era. Today "Christian nations” wage war against other “Christian nations” as well as against non-Christian.

In the absence of persecution, many use the Book of Revelation as a weapon of attack against each other. They try to identify the "beast", the "antichrist" and the "false prophets" and make mutual accusations. They also try to use it to plot future events is used to try to manipulate their followers into following their doctrinal line or religious practices.

Even though we have achieved sophisticated technologies, our world is beyond our control. We have created "monsters" that can crush us. Our violence is turning against us. Mother Earth is reacting with environmental changes that are producing droughts, floods, heat and cold waves and the rising of the oceans.

What would be the message of this book for a dominant, fragmented and biased Christianity which itself is often a persecutor and to make it faithful to what Jesus taught? The symbolism of “palm branches in their hands” represents peace. It would mean the rejection of violence, prejudice and materialism and trust in the power of love by peaceful living. Only then can we sow peace, even though it endangers our own lives in the process. Divine action is much greater than we can imagine. It is not for us to be judges and take justice into our own hands. It would be by living justice and relying on the "Lamb" who really reigns despite appearances to the contrary. In that way we can belong to the hidden crowd who has “palm branches in their hands” and are sowers of peace.

 

REVELATION 7:9-17 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

THE GREAT MULTITUDE IN WHITE ROBES

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,

who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.”

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen!

Praise and glory

and wisdom and thanks and honor

and power and strength

be to our God for ever and ever.

Amen!”

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,

“they are before the throne of God

    and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne

    will shelter them with his presence.

‘Never again will they hunger;

    never again will they thirst.

The sun will not beat down on them,’

    nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb at the center of the throne

    will be their shepherd;

‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’

    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’

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