Yes, you’ve read the words correctly.
For sure if you’d said this to me before I began researching and writing this piece about the humungous “AHA!” given to me by Bishop Robert Barron this past week, I’d have replied with something highly reasoned like, “Huh?”
Or, “Come again?”
Hint: we’ve got the apocalypse all wrong.
Last Sunday’s Gospel portends today’s Feast of Christ, the King of the Universe. However, we need some help to methodically unpack Jesus’s words to his disciples:
“In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.
“But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
the Feast of Christ the King. Almost 100 years ago, in 1925, Pope Pius XI wrote Quas Pimas (In the First.) Concerned about the growing domination of communism and its axiomatic atheism, the Pope introduced his 1925 encyclical by recalling the theme of his papacy written three years earlier: “…manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ…”
As always, the work of researching and writing articles like this one brings me more than a little consolation and infusion of Hope.
Just a few moments of reflection about the world state of the world in 1925 compels us to stop. And think hard about the inspiration which led the Pope to proclaim this last Sunday in the Christian liturgy as Christ the King of the Universe,
In his timeless encyclical, Pope Pius Xl exhorts us: “…if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights.”
And now to that hint, “We’ve got the Apocalypse all wrong?
in last Sunday’s Gospel passage. Helping us to place ourselves there, with them, Bishop Barron explains that Jesus and the disciples are standing at the entrance of the Temple. They have just completed the ascent into Jerusalem from the Jericho gates and are gazing at the magnificent edifice which symbolized the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We moderns lack words to describe the meaning of the Jerusalem Temple to the first-century-Jew. It represented their national and religious identity, their purpose.
Useful too is reading the passages in the Gospel of Mark that precede this one: “As he was making his way out of the temple area one of his disciples said to him, “Look, teacher, what stones and what buildings!” Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be one stone left upon another that will not be thrown down…”
Bishop Barron suggests we imagine how the twelve must they have felt when Jesus declares that He is about to blow the Temple and the entire world into smithereens. Because, Barron explains, that is precisely what He is saying- if we take His words literally.
“Either Jesus is obviously wrong or is a very bad prophet” because the world did not cease to exist in the first century.
We “are compelled,” Bishop Barron insists, to look at this reading differently.
Because, it has a specific relevance to Jesus’s time… and to ours.
We must consider the “genre” of these readings.. thereby looking at these readings with “new eyes.” Simply and lucidly he puts it together for us. The first reading in Daniel, along with Jesus’s words are obviously apocalyptic, as in the Book of Revelation.
But then, Bishop Barron’s [for me] astounding punchline: “Our English word, ‘apocalypse’ is from ‘apokalypsis’ in Greek which doesn’t mean, the end. It means ‘taking away the veil.’ When transalated into Latin, apokalypsis became revelatio: the pulling back of the veil.
Indeed the incipient Passion of Christ will unveil what has been hidden from Moses, Issac, Jacob and all the previous prophets. This Jesus is the Messiah, the feast of Christ the King is the Apocalypse.
We’ve read and heard it from St. Paul countless times:
….we act very boldly and not like Moses,* who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not look intently at the cessation of what was fading. Rather, their thoughts were rendered dull, for to this present day* the same veil remains unlifted when they read the old covenant, because through Christ it is taken away. To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts,f but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit,* and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Yes, Christ King of the Universe Is The Apocalypse.
….Longinus shifted from one foot to the other, coughed… cleared his throat, coughed again. “Sir…we saw a blinding light and then…” He paused, looking wholly miserable at the thought of telling a tale no one in his right mind would believe.
All I could think was, I will destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again. “Proceed, Longinus—what happened at that cave?”
“There were…the only way I can think to describe them is…‘light-filled beings,’ sir. They were at least twelve, maybe fifteen feet tall. Together, they lifted something that looked like a sword….” He paused and glanced down at his own sword hanging from his waist. “They aimed it at us and we fell unconscious. Or…at least that is the last thing I remember.” He glanced back at his associates and they nodded. He then began speaking more quickly, as if he wanted to get the whole story out before he lost his nerve. “When we woke up, the boulder had been rolled away and the tomb was empty! We examined it thoroughly, but all it contained was the tunic that Jesus had worn when on the cross. Nothing more. No sign of the body, sir.”
Wilder, Lin. I, Claudia (p. 249). Writer. Kindle Edition.
Chist is King of the Universe and of me: my body, mind, heart and soul.
…St. Michael the Archangel, Conqueror of Lucifer, Guide of souls to the Judgment Seat of God,
Teach us to fight through humility; to conquer through obedience and silence; and to love and be faithful.