We live in a time that is troubled where humanity is divided and there is much suffering and conflict. We look for answers, consolation and hope amid natural disasters and the impact of war. This experience is one that we share with the first readers of the book of Revelation. The first generations of Christians were confronted with persecution, rejection and exclusion. The letters written to the seven churches in Rev 1-3 reveal how different communities of Christians coped with these enormous pressures. Some heroically persisted in their faith while others fell away and needed support, or to be prodded to renew their commitment to the Crucified and Risen One and each other. Today’s reading refers to two olive trees and two lamps that were faithful witnesses to their Christian faith in Jerusalem. We know that it is Jerusalem because it is referred to as the Great City in which the Lord was crucified. These witnesses were killed and yet after three and a half days God breathed life into them, and they were called directly into heaven. Despite the horror, rejection and persecution they were faithful, and their faithfulness was matched by God in raising them.
Belief in the resurrection gave those early Christians the courage to endure and face the challenges of their time. It is the bedrock and foundation stone of our faith that gives us strength and courage to address the challenges of our own lives joining our faith with that of Paul who expressed it so beautifully: “ I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:38-39
Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.