Memorial of The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 21, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our first reading from Revelation describes what has come to be known in modern culture as “the Rapture”. It’s a concept probably more popularized by modern fiction than by our devotion to scripture.
Maybe you are one of the 60 million readers of the “Left Behind” books by Jenkins and LaHaye. This popular series captures our fascination with “the end times”.
The writer of Revelation is doing the same thing. This highly imaginative ancient author – adept at symbols, allegory, and poetry – writes to awake and engage us in our own salvation.
Whether or not his visions predict facts is not the point. The point is that there will come an end time to every life. When it comes to us, we want to have already become God’s familiar and beloved friend.
A second point is that this world, as we know it, is passing. We should not make our heart’s investment here. Our lasting treasure lies in God’s realm which, while present here, is often rendered invisible by our human hungers and distractions.
Revelation enjoins us to wake up, see beyond the visible, and live a life worthy of eternity.
How? The true and simple answer is in today’s Gospel:
“When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasure
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
This blessed widow, even in her impoverished circumstances, understood where her true treasure lay. She was already counted among the sainted “hundred and forty-four thousand”.
Poetry: The Rapture – Mary Oliver
I wandered the fields
that were thickening
with weeds and blossoms,
with the long loops
of the shimmering, and the extravagant-
pale as flames they rose
and fell back,
replete and beautiful-
that was all there was-
and I too
once or twice, at least,
felt myself rising,
touching suddenly the tops of the weeds,
the blue and silky air-
passion did it,
called me forth,
stripped me clean
then covered me with the cloth of happiness-
I think there is no other prize,
only rapture the gleaming,
rapture the illogical the weightless-
whether it be for the perfect shapeliness
of something you love-
like an old German song-
or of someone-
or the dark floss of the earth itself,
heavy and electric.
At the edge of sweet sanity open
such wild, blind wings.
Music: When I read these apocalyptic passages, I like to imagine the scene by listening to compatible music. One of my favorite accompaniments is Richard Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries. Just imagine Jesus riding into our lives on these exalted melodies!