We return to the beginning to discover a surprise – the letters to the Churches, written millenia ago, provide valuable insight for just these days. Of course, each century of the Church’s history has been able to say that to some extent, but as we read the first three chapters, we do see a rather astonishing array of lessons for the Church in this most troubled time. Our readings are taken today from Apocalypse 1-3, Catholic Bible Online.
When St. John the beloved Apostle set down the words revealed to him in the Apocalypse, he began with:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to make known to His servants the things which must shortly come to pass: and signified, sending by His angel to His servant John, who hath given testimony to the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, what things soever he hath seen. Blessed is he, that readeth and heareth the words of this prophecy; and keepeth those things which are written in it; for the time is at hand.”
The first thing we notice is the phrase, “must shortly come to pass” which is then repeated for emphasis in the end, “For the time is at hand”. And when was this written? So you see that the timeframe expressed in sacred scripture is vastly different from our timeframe. An instructor once remarked on this timeframe that ours is, “like a mayfly’s”.
Continuing in Chapter 1, we see,
“I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying: What thou seest, write in a book, and send to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamus, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”