Second Reading: Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20
Invitation to Eternal Life
How would you like a personal invitation to heaven?
12 “Look! I will come soon. Then, I will pay everyone what they deserve. 13 I am the A and the Z of creation. I stand first before God; my judgments will last. I began everything. I will finish everything.
14 Those who wash their robes are really happy. Because of the rights the received from the wood of life, they can enter the gates of God’s city.
16 I, Jesus, sent you a messenger to tell the churches this. I am the son of David, the bright star of the morning. The Spirit and my bride say, ‘Come.’ Let the person who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let the thirsty come. Let the person who wants the water of life receive it as a gift.”
20 The person who told me this also said, “Yes, I will come very soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
12 Look! I am coming soon and (there is) my wages with me, to give to each just as his deed (requires). 13 I am the ALPHA and the OMEGA, the FIRST (one) and the LAST (one), the BEGINNING and the FULFILLMENT.
14 Blessed (are) the (ones) washing their (lengthily) robes, so that their authority will be upon the wood of LIFE, and they can enter the gates (that lead) into the city.
16 I, JESUS, sent my angel to you to testify these (things) to the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning STAR. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let the (one) hearing (this message) say, “Come.” Let the (one) thirsting come, let the (one) desiring receive the water of life as a gift.
20 The (ONE) testifying to these (things) says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen, come LORD JESUS.
22:13 This verse might seem to be different ways to say the same thing, but the Greek implied a little more. The Jewish sense of time (one we share) is not cyclical, like the never-ending flow of nature; Jews believed in a linear flow of time with a beginning and an end. 22:13 placed Jesus in the middle of chronological time. Jesus stated he was the first instrument of creation (the Alpha) and the final agent of salvation (the Omega). He is the First, not only chronologically, but in stature; he is the judge. He is the Last, for his judgement will last into eternity. His activity began God’s work (the beginning); his activity will sum up and complete God’s work (the end). Finally, as the beginning and the end of creation, he is the only person, his work is the only event that matters within time itself.
22:14 This verse contained three images: washing their baptismal robes, the tree of life (which can be both the tree in the Garden of Eden and the cross), and the gates to the New Jerusalem. Again, John the Elder connected sacramental images with the crucifixion and the end times. Washing the robes (implicitly in the Blood of the Lamb) gave these faithful authority (from the crucifixion) to enter eternal life (the New Jerusalem). John declared these faithful blessed and happy.
22:16 “I am the root and offspring of David.” Since the shoot of a young plant is like a root, the terms “root” and “offspring” are synonymous.
“...the bright, morning star.” This title had Messianic overtones. It can also refer to the Resurrection (rising like the sun in the east).
We all have images of the afterlife. Angels play harps on clouds. St. Peter stands at the pearly gates of heaven. The faithful are given theirs. Some Christians reflect on the New Jerusalem (found in Revelation 21:1-22:5). Despite our images, most Christians, practicing and non-practicing, simply assume the deceased are before God. We all fail to consider the words of Revelation 22. Heaven is not a right, it is a gift that is given by invitation.
These verses end the apocalyptic book written by John the Elder. Between the witness (and revelation) Jesus gave to the churches, the Spirit, the Bride, and those who truly hear the words of the book call out, “Come!” This is not only a cry for the Second Coming (22:20); in context, this was also a plea for everyone to believe. You thirsty, come to the living water given without price. Yes, everyone will receive based upon the actions (22:12), but actions should not be reduced to the ethical. After all, we don’t deserve heaven, even though we might assume we have a right to heaven. The Lord will reward based upon faithfulness, not simply a good life. Of course, we should not judge the faith of others; that’s God’s prerogative. The invitation to the water of life is a call to a closer walk with the Lord. The images of the New Jerusalem are meant to increase faith, not simply give comfort in times of grief.
The Spirit and the Church call out “Come.” Come, Lord Jesus. Come and join with the Lord Jesus in eternal life.
How do you experience God’s invitation? How does that invitation encourage you to look forward to the afterlife?