I, John, had a vision of an open door to heaven,
and I heard the trumpetlike voice
that had spoken to me before, saying,
“Come up here and I will show you what must happen afterwards.”
At once I was caught up in spirit.
A throne was there in heaven, and on the throne sat one
whose appearance sparkled like jasper and carnelian.
Around the throne was a halo as brilliant as an emerald.
Surrounding the throne I saw twenty-four other thrones
on which twenty-four elders sat,
dressed in white garments and with gold crowns on their heads.
From the throne came flashes of lightning,
rumblings, and peals of thunder.
Seven flaming torches burned in front of the throne,
which are the seven spirits of God.
In front of the throne was something that resembled
a sea of glass like crystal.
In the center and around the throne,
there were four living creatures
covered with eyes in front and in back.
The first creature resembled a lion, the second was like a calf,
the third had a face like that of a man,
and the fourth looked like an eagle in flight.
The four living creatures, each of them with six wings,
were covered with eyes inside and out.
Day and night they do not stop exclaiming:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty,
who was, and who is, and who is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks
to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
the twenty-four elders fall down
before the one who sits on the throne
and worship him, who lives forever and ever.
They throw down their crowns before the throne, exclaiming:
“Worthy are you, Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things;
because of your will they came to be and were created.”
While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
“A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
‘We do not want this man to be our king.’
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’
He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.’
Then the second came and reported,
‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’
And to this servant too he said,
‘You, take charge of five cities.’
Then the other servant came and said,
‘Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.’
He said to him,
‘With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’
And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.’
But they said to him,
‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’
He replied, ‘I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.'”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: People must render their account with God on the Judgment Day.
Everything happens in life for a reason; for examples, a carpenter makes a chair for people to sit on it; a farmer sows seeds to have food for people to eat; a student goes to school to acquire necessary knowledge for their profession later. Similarly, God creates people to enjoy the future bliss with Him in heaven; but they must first show that they are worthy of it by their faith and love for Him. People must render their account with God about what they do in the world; and depending on these works, they shall receive the corresponding reward or punishment.
Today readings center around what shall happen on the Last Day. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation reported his vision about the Judgment Day when all God’s people must come before Him and the twenty-four elders to be judged. In the Gospel, Jesus cited a parable to illustrate God’s judgment. It likes a nobleman who went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He gave his servants some gold coins so they could make a profit for him before he was on the way. When he came back, he called all of them to render their account to him and he judged them according to their making of profit.
1/ Reading I: The vision of God’s throne in heaven
1.1/ God’s throne and the twenty-four thrones of the elders:
(1) God’s throne: The author saw and gave a description of God’s throne but he couldn’t describe of the One who sits on it. He could only saying, “one whose appearance sparkled like jasper and carnelian.” According to the Jewish tradition, God’s glory is described as the sparkling of precious stones; the jasper and the carnelian are two most precious stones (Cf. Exo 24:10; Eze 1:26-28, 10:1).
(2) The other twenty-four thrones: are represented for twelve tribes of the Old Testament and twelves apostles of the New Testament. They sit on the thrones to judge people with God.
(3) “Seven flaming torches burned in front of the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.” The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit were mentioned the first time in Isaiah 11:2-3, “A spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” The Church differentiate between two fear of the Lord: one for God Himself and one for others. This second one is called piety.
1.2/ The things appeared before God’s throne:
(1) “In front of the throne was something that resembled a sea of glass like crystal.” The Jewish tradition believes “a sea of glass like crystal” is a thing that separates heaven and earth.
(2) “In the center and around the throne, there were four living creatures covered with eyes in front and in back.” The background of this description is taken from Ezekiel 1:9-10. The four animals represent all God’s creatures; each creature represents the most splendid glory of its kind. “Eyes in front and in back” means God always presents and controls all of His works.
* The first creature resembled a lion: This first animal represents the nobility; for example, the “lion of Judah” is the Messiah.
* The second creature resembled a calf: which represents for its mighty power.
* The third creature had a face like that of a human being: which represents for wisdom. People are different with other creatures because of this quality.
* The fourth creature looked like an eagle in flight: which represents for swift moving.
From St. Iraneus’ time, these four creatures represent the four evangelists. According to the order, Mark is the lion, Luke is the calf, Matthew is the man and John is the eagle.
(3) “The four living creatures, each of them with six wings, were covered with eyes inside and out. Day and night they do not stop exclaiming: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.”” All God’s creatures in heaven and on earth must praise God day and night without ceasing because He is worthy of all praises.
2/ Gospel: The Day of Judgment
This parable is similar as Matthew’s parable (Mt 25:14-30). The differences between them are in Luke, we know the reason why a nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom and the people’s attitude: “But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, `We do not want this man to reign over us.’” This is a historical event which was reported in the Jewish history. After king Herode the Great died, he divided his kingdom into three territories for his three sons: Antipas, the Galilee region; Philip, the Jordan region, and Archelaus, the Judah region. This decision must be approved by the emperor Augustus of Rome. When Archelaus went to Rome to ask for the emperor’s approval, the Jews also sent a delegation of fifty people to Rome to voice their will: “We do not want this man to reign over us.” The emperor Augustus approved Archelaus to be a king to govern Judah. Jesus’ audience knew about this historical event.
This parable wanted to emphasize three things:
(1) God believes in men: The nobleman didn’t set an amount of profit which his servants must yield; he let his servants to determine that amount depending on their ability. He was not present to check on them or to give his advises; he traveled far away so they were completely free to decide and to work.
(2) Men must settle their accounts with God: Money is given to have a profit, not to be wasted. The more important point is for his servants to show their ability. When the nobleman returned, “he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. The first came before him, saying, `Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.’ And he said to him, `Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, `Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ And he said to him, `And you are to be over five cities.’”
“Then another came, saying, `Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, `I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, `Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.’ (And they said to him, `Lord, he has ten pounds!’) `I tell you, that to everyone who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’”
(3) Reward and punishment: The result showed the servants’ ability and the master’s evaluation. Whoever shows that he lived worthy of God’s trust as the first and the second servant, God will trust and give him more responsibilities since He knows that one will fullfill his duty. But if someone didn’t lived worthy of God’s trust, and also found a reason to cover his laziness by blaming on Him as the third person, how can God trust him and give him more responsibitity? He will take back all that was given to him and give to those who know how to make a profit for Him. Experience is a proof for Jesus’ point: If people didn’t practice what they had learned, they will gradually lose them; but if they put them into practice, they will acquire more knowledge and have more experience.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We need to know the reason why God let us exist in this world is for us to show our faith and love for Him through what we do for God and others. We must render our account to Him on the Last Day.