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From: Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

The Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet

[19] Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was
seen within his temple.

The Woman Fleeing from the Dragon

[1] And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with
the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; [2] she was
with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery [3] And
another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads
and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. [4] His tail swept down a third
of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before
the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when
she brought it forth; [5] she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the
nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,
[6] and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by

[10] And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come.


19. The seer introduces the heavenly temple (the location par excellence of
God’s presence), paralleling the earlier mention of the temple of Jerusalem (cf.
11:1-2). The opening of the temple and the sight of the Ark of the Covenant show
that the messianic era has come to an end and God’s work of salvation has been
completed. The ark was the symbol of Israel’s election and salvation and of God’s
presence in the midst of his people. According to a Jewish tradition, reported in
2 Maccabees 2:4-8, Jeremiah placed the ark in a secret hiding place prior to the
destruction of Jerusalem, and it would be seen again when the Messiah came.
The author of the Apocalypse uses this to assure us that God has not forgotten
his covenant: he has sealed it definitively in heaven, where the ark is located.

Many early commentators interpreted the ark as a reference to Christ’s sacred
humanity, and St Bede explains that just as the manna was kept in the original
ark, so Christ’s divinity lies hidden in his sacred body (cf. “Explanatio Apocalyp-
sis”, 11, 19).

The heavenly covenant is the new and eternal one made by Jesus Christ (cf. Mt
26:26-29 and par.) which will be revealed to all at his second coming when the
Church will triumph, as the Apocalypse goes on to describe. The presence of the
ark in the heavenly temple symbolizes the sublimity of the messianic kingdom,
which exceeds anything man could create. “The vigilant and active expectation
of the coming of the Kingdom is also the expectation of a finally perfect justice
for the living and the dead, for people of all times and places, a justice which
Jesus Christ, installed as supreme Judge, will establish (cf. Mt 24:29-44, 46;
Acts 10:42; 2 Cor 5: 10). This promise, which surpasses all human possibilities,
directly concerns our life in this world. For true justice must include everyone; it
must explain the immense load of suffering borne by all generations. In fact, with-
out the resurrection of the dead and the Lord’s judgment, there is no justice in
the full sense of the term. The promise of the resurrection is freely made to meet
the desire for true justice dwelling in the human heart” (SCDF, “Libertatis Con-
scientia”, 60).

The thunder and lightning which accompany the appearance of the ark are remi-
niscent of the way God made his presence felt on Sinai; they reveal God’s mighty
intervention (cf. Rev 4:5; 8:5) which is now accompanied by the chastisement of
the wicked, symbolized by the earthquake and hailstones (cf. Ex 9: 13-35).

1-17. We are now introduced to the contenders in the eschatological battles which
mark the final confrontation between God and his adversary, the devil. The author
uses three portents to describe the leading figures involved, and the war itself. The
first is the woman and her offspring, including the Messiah (12:1-2); the second is
the dragon, who will later transfer his power to the beasts (12:3); the third, the
seven angels with the seven bowls (15:1).

Three successive confrontations with the dragon are described—1) that of the Mes-
iah to whom the woman gives birth (12:1-6); 2) that of St Michael and his angels
(12:7-12); and 3) that of the woman and the rest of her offspring (12:13-17) These
confrontations should not be seen as being in chronological order. They are more
like three distinct pictures placed side by side because they are closely connec-
ted: in each the same enemy, the devil, does battle with God’s plans and with
those whom God uses to carry them out.

1-2. The mysterious figure of the woman has been interpreted ever since the time
of the Fathers of the Church as referring to the ancient people of Israel, or the
Church of Jesus Christ, or the Blessed Virgin. The text supports all of these inter-
pretations but in none do all the details fit. The woman can stand for the people
of Israel, for it is from that people that the Messiah comes, and Isaiah compares
Israel to “a woman with child, who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she
is near her time” (Is 26:17).

She can also stand for the Church, whose children strive to overcome evil and to
bear witness to Jesus Christ (cf. v. 17). Following this interpretation St Gregory
wrote: “The sun stands for the light of truth, and the moon for the transitoriness
of temporal things; the holy Church is clothed like the sun because she is pro-
tected by the splendor of supernatural truth, and she has the moon under her
feet because she is above all earthly things” (”Moralia”, 34, 12).

The passage can also refer to the Virgin Mary because it was she who truly and
historically gave birth to the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord (cf. v. 5). St Bernard
comments: “The sun contains permanent color and splendor; whereas the moon’s
brightness is unpredictable and changeable, for it never stays the same. It is quite
right, then, for Mary to be depicted as clothed with the sun, for she entered the
profundity of divine wisdom much further than one can possibly conceive” (”De B.
Virgine”, 2).

In his account of the Annunciation, St Luke sees Mary as representing the faith-
ful remnant of Israel; the angel greets her with the greeting given in Zephaniah 3:
15 to the daughter of Zion (cf. notes on Lk 1:26-31). St Paul in Galatians 4:4 sees
a woman as the symbol of the Church, our mother; and non-canonical Jewish lite-
rature contemporary with the Book of Revelation quite often personifies the com-
munity as a woman. So, the inspired text of the Apocalypse is open to interpre-
ting this woman as a direct reference to the Blessed Virgin who, as mother,
shares in the pain of Calvary (cf. Lk 2:35) and who was earlier prophesied in
Isaiah 7:14 as a “sign” (cf. Mt 1:22-23). At the same time the woman can be in-
terpreted as standing for the people of God, the Church, whom the figure of Mary

The Second Vatican Council has solemnly taught that Mary is a “type” or sym-
bol of the Church, for “in the mystery of the Church, which is itself rightly called
mother and virgin, the Blessed Virgin stands out in eminent and singular fashion
as exemplar both of virgin and mother. Through her faith and obedience she gave
birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, not through the knowledge of man
but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, in the manner of a new Eve who
placed her faith, not in the serpent of old but in God’s messenger, without wa-
vering in doubt. The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the
first-born among many brethren (cf. Rom 8:29), that is, the faithful, in whose ge-
neration and formation she cooperates with a mother’s love” (Vatican II, “Lumen
Gentium”, 63).

The description of the woman indicates her heavenly glory, and the twelve stars
of her victorious crown symbolize the people of God—the twelve patriarchs (cf.
Gen 37:9) and the twelve apostles. And so, independently of the chronological
aspects of the text, the Church sees in this heavenly woman the Blessed Virgin,
“taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and
exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully
conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rev 19:16) and conqueror of sin and
death” (”Lumen Gentium”, 59). The Blessed Virgin is indeed the great sign, for,
as St Bonaventure says, “God could have made none greater. He could have
made a greater world and a greater heaven; but not a woman greater than his
own mother” (”Speculum”, 8).

3-4. In his description of the devil (cf. v. 9), St John uses symbols taken from the
Old Testament. The dragon or serpent comes from Genesis 3:1-24, a passage
which underlies all the latter half of this book. Its red color and seven heads with
seven diadems show that it is bringing its full force to bear to wage this war. The
ten horns in Daniel 7:7 stand for the kings who are Israel’s enemies; in Daniel a
horn is also mentioned to refer to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, of whom Daniel also
says (to emphasize the greatness of Antiochus’ victories) that it cast stars down
from heaven onto the earth (cf. Dan 8:10). Satan drags other angels along with
him, as the text later recounts (Rev 12:9). All these symbols, then, are designed
to convey the enormous power of Satan. “The devil is described as a serpent”, St
Cyprian writes, “because he moves silently and seems peaceable and comes by
easy ways and is so astute and so deceptive [...] that he tries to have night taken
for day, poison taken for medicine. So, by deceptions of this kind, he tries to des-
troy truth by cunning. That is why he passes himself off as an angel of light” (”De\
Unitate Ecclesiae”, I-III).

After the fall of our first parents war broke out between the serpent and his seed
and the woman and hers: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between
your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel”
(Gen 3:15). Jesus Christ is the woman’s descendant who will obtain victory over
the devil (cf. Mk 1:23-26; Lk 4:31-37; etc.). That is why the power of evil concen-
trates all his energy on destroying Christ (cf. Mt 2:13-18) or to deflecting him from
his mission (cf. Mt 4:1-11 and par.). By relating this enmity to the beginnings of
the human race St. John paints a very vivid picture.

5. The birth of Jesus Christ brings into operation the divine plan announced by the
prophets (cf. Is 66:7) and by the Psalms (cf. Ps 2:9), and marks the first step in
ultimate victory over the devil. Jesus’ life on earth, culminating in his passion, re-
surrection and ascension into heaven, was the key factor in achieving this victory.
St John emphasizes the triumph of Christ as victor, who, as the Church confes-
ses, “sits at the right hand of the Father” (”Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed”).

6. The figure of the woman reminds us of the Church, the people of God. Israel
took refuge in the wilderness to escape from Pharaoh, and the Church does the
same after the victory of Christ. The wilderness stands for solitude and intimate
union with God. In the wilderness God took personal care of his people, setting
them free from their enemies (cf. Ex 17:8-16) and nourishing them with quail and
manna (cf. Ex 16:1-36). The Church is given similar protection against the powers
of hell (cf. Mt 16:18) and Christ nourishes it with his body and his word all the
while it makes its pilgrimage through the ages; it has a hard time (like Israel in
the wilderness) but there will be an end to it: it will take one thousand two hun-
dred and sixty days (cf. notes on 11:3).

Although the woman, in this verse, seems to refer directly to the Church, she
also in some way stands for the particular woman who gave birth to the Messi-
ah, the Blessed Virgin. As no other creature has done, Mary has enjoyed a very
unique type of union with God and very special protection from the powers of evil,
death included. Thus, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, “in the meantime
[while the Church makes its pilgrim way on earth], the Mother of Jesus in the
glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image and begin-
ning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she
shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come (cf. 2 Pet 3:10), a sign
of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim people of God” (”Lumen Gentium”, 68).

10-12. With the ascension of Christ into heaven the Kingdom of God is estab-
lished and so all those who dwell in heaven break out into a song of joy. The devil
has been deprived of his power over man in the sense that the redemptive action
of Christ and man’s faith enable man to escape from the world of sin. The text
expresses this joyful truth by saying that there is now no place for the accuser,
Satan whose name means and whom the Old Testament teaches to be the accu-
ser of men before God: cf. Job 1:6-12; 2:1-10). Given what God meant creation to
be, Satan could claim as his victory anyone who, through sinning, disfigured the
image and likeness of God that was in him. However, once the Redemption has
taken place, Satan no longer has power to do this, for, as St John writes, “if any
one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of
the whole world” (Jn 2:1-2). Also, on ascending into heaven, Christ sent us the
Holy Spirit as “Intercessor and Advocate, especially when man, that is, mankind,
find themselves before the judgment of condemnation by that ‘accuser’ about
whom the Book of Revelation says that ‘he accuses them day and night before
our God”’ (John Paul II, “Dominum Et Vivificantem”, 67).

Although Satan has lost this power to act in the world, he still has time left, be-
tween the resurrection of our Lord and the end of history, to put obstacles in
man’s way and frustrate Christ’s action. And so he works ever more frenetically,
as he sees time run out, in his effort to distance everyone and society itself from
the plans and commandments of God.

The author of the Book of Revelation uses this celestial chant to warn the Church
of the onset of danger as the End approaches.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

17 posted on 08/14/2010 10:20:20 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: 1 Corinthians 15:20-27

The Basis of Our Faith (Continuation)

[20] But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who
have fallen asleep. [21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also
the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall
all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at
his coming those who belong to Christ. [24] Then comes the end, when he deli-
vers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authori-
ty and power. [25] For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his
feet. [26] The last enemy to be destroyed is death. [27] “For God has put all
things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in sub-
jection under him,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him.


20-28. The Apostle insists on the solidarity that exists between Christ and Chris-
tians: as members of one single body, of which Christ is the head, they form as
it were one organism (cf. Rom 6:3-11; Gal 3:28). Therefore, once the resurrection
of Christ is affirmed, the resurrection of the just necessarily follows. Adam’s diso-
bedience brought death for all; Jesus, the new Adam, has merited that all should
rise (cf. Rom 5:12-21). “Again, the resurrection of Christ effects for us the resur-
rection of our bodies not only because it was the efficient cause of this mystery,
but also because we all ought to arise after the example of the Lord. For with re-
gard to the resurrection of the body we have this testimony of the Apostle: ‘As by
a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead’ (1 Cor
15:21). In all that God did to accomplish the mystery of our redemption he made
use of the humanity of Christ as an effective instrument, and hence his resurrec-
tion was, as it were, an instrument for the accomplishment of our resurrection”
(”St Pius V Catechism”, I, 6, 13).

Although St Paul here is referring only to the resurrection of the just (v. 23), he
does speak elsewhere of the resurrection of all mankind (cf. Acts 24:15). The
doctrine of the resurrection of the bodies of all at the end of time, when Jesus will
come in glory to judge everyone, has always been part of the faith of the Church;
“he [Christ] will come at the end of the world, he will judge the living and the dead;
and he will reward all, both the lost and the elect, according to their works. And
all those will rise with their own bodies which they now have so that they may re-
ceive according to their works, whether good or bad; the wicked, a perpetual
punishment with the devil; the good, eternal glory with ‘Christ” (Fourth Lateran
Council, “De Fide Catholica”, chap. 1).

23-28. St Paul outlines very succinctly the entire messianic and redemptive work
of Christ: by decree of the Father, Christ has been made Lord of the universe (cf.
Mt 28:18), in fulfillment of Ps 110:1 and Ps 8:7. When it says here that “the Son
himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him”, this must be
understood as referring to Christ in his capacity of Messiah and head of the
Church; not Christ as God, because the Son is “begotten, not created, consub-
stantial with the Father” (”Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed”).

Christ’s sovereignty over all creation comes about in history, but it will achieve
its final, complete, form after the Last Judgment. The Apostle presents that last
event —a mystery to us—as a solemn act of homage to the Father. Christ will offer
all creation to his Father as a kind of trophy, offering him the Kingdom which up
to then had been confided to his care. From that moment on, the sovereignty of
God and Christ will be absolute, they will have no enemies, no rivals; the stage
of combat will have given way to that of contemplation, as St Augustine puts it
(cf. “De Trinitate”, 1, 8).

The Parousia or second coming of Christ in glory at the end of time, when he es-
tablishes the new heaven and the new earth (cf. Rev 21:1-2), will mean definitive
victory over the devil, over sin, suffering and death. A Christian’s hope in this vic-
tory is not something passive: rather, it is something that spurs him on to ensure
that even in this present life Christ’s teaching and spirit imbue all human activities.
“Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth,” Vatican II teaches, “the
expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new
human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That
is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from
the increase of the Kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the
Kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human so-

“When we have spread on earth the fruits of our nature and our enterprise -
man dignity, brotherly communion, and freedom—according to the command of
the Lord and in his Spirit, we will find them once again, cleansed this time from
the stain of sin, illuminated and transfigured, when Christ presents to his Father
an eternal and universal kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and
grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace (”Roman Missal”, preface for the so-
lemnity of Christ the King). Here on earth the Kingdom is mysteriously present;
when the Lord comes it will enter into its perfection” (”Gaudium Et Spes”, 39).

24. “When he delivers the kingdom to God the Father”: this does not quite catch
the beauty of the Greek which literally means “when he delivers the kingdom to
the God and Father”. In New Testament Greek, when the word “Theos” (God) is
preceded by the definite article (”ho Theos”) the first person of the Blessed Trini-
ty is being referred to.

25. “He must reign”: every year, on the last Sunday of ordinary time, the Church
celebrates the solemnity of Christ the King, to acknowledge his absolute sove-
reignty over all created things. On instituting this feast, Pius XI pointed out that
“He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and
firm belief to revealed truths and to the teachings of Christ. He must reign in our
wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our
hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and
cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which
should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or, to use
the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom
6:13)” (”Quas Primas”).

27. By “all things” the Apostle clearly means all created beings. In pagan my-
thology, rivalry and strife occurred among the gods and sometimes led to the son
of a god supplanting his father. St Paul wants to make it quite clear that Sacred
Scripture suggests nothing of that kind. No subjection is possible among the
three persons of the Blessed Trinity, because they are one God.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

18 posted on 08/14/2010 10:30:25 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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