Monday, November 19, 2012
The Lord: Chapter 76, “He Who Reigns”
I have a dear friend whose father died when he was seven years old, leaving his mother a widow with seven children, all still quite young. My friend developed a fantasy that his father wasn’t dead but was on a secret mission for the President of the United States, and that Dad would return in glory, complete with front-page headlines and a hometown parade.
Imagine that a letter arrived from my friend’s father telling his family not to worry, that he was still alive and would return. Imagine that the father told the seven children that he knew about their troubles in his absence and reminded them to be good and mind their mother while he was away.
According to my reading of Romano Guardini, that’s what we have in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation.
The seven children here, at the end of the New Testament, are seven churches of the first century. According to Guardini, Revelation, a grand vision given to the Apostle-Evangelist John, is a consoling letter from God to these churches in a time of growing tribulation.
In the vision, the churches are seven “lamp-stands,” in the midst of which stands “One like a son of man. . . . But his head and his hair were white as white wool, and a snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire; his feet were like fine brass, as in a glowing furnace, and his voice like the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars. And out of his mouth came forth a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was like the sun shining in its power.”
That kind of vision may not console you, my dear old friend, but it may have done the trick for the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Christ reveals himself standing in their midst, and he addresses the bishops of these communities.
He consoles them, saying that he knows how hard their labors and heavy their sorrows; he reprimands them, urging them not to forget his teaching; he exhorts them to reform and threatens them with punishment; he cautions them “to persevere and overcome”; and “he proclaims immeasurable fulfillment.”
To a young family set adrift by the death of their Lord and master, that must have been quite the letter to receive.
This series of posts on Romano Guardini’s The Lord continues here with chapter 77.