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Introduction To Apocalypse
Introduction of Apocalypse
Now, the word of God at times falls on trampled and hard ground, unbroken and untilled; for this reason it leaves the ground of the heart indifferent; someone comes in and hears but he is not moved at all. The word of God also falls on fickle hearts, those that become easily enthused. They feel inner joy for the word of God, but when they step out the door, they forget everything. Other seeds fall on hearts that promise a lot, who map out a beautiful spiritual life; but one thousand and one concerns of this life come and choke the seedlings of God, and in the end these hearts remain fruitless! We pray that no one belong to the above categories. No, my beloved, the word of God must fall on good and fertile soil so that it can bear fruit—the fruit of holiness. However, these hearts must accept the word of God with fear and humility, and in doing so they will produce thirty-fold, sixty-fold and a hundred-fold! I hope and pray once again that there is not a single heart from the first three fruitless categories, but that all hearts prove to be of good earth. My prayer is that the word of God that falls on our hearts produces great fruit.
This year, the grace of God offers us the great opportunity to sow His word from the book of the Revelation. It is the last book of both the New Testament and of the entire Holy Scriptures. This book forms the conclusion of the Holy Scriptures and it corresponds considerably to the first book, the book of Genesis. These two books form the axis of the fall and salvation. Now, if the book of Genesis refers to the history of man’s fall, the book of the Revelation refers to the history of man’s restoration and salvation. In the book of Genesis, we have the description of the creation of the world and of man. It is the beautiful twilight of the visible created world. Unfortunately, the man and woman fell into sin at the instigation of the devil, and since then, in addition to sin, both death and corruption were introduced into the world. To all appearances, God’s beautiful plan—to have nature draw near to God, to unite with Him and be deified and sanctified—was negated. However, that which God creates cannot be nullified or negated. In order to renew the visible created world, God’s economy brought forth the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ.
The entire world did not accept Jesus Christ and it crucified Him. Still, the plan of salvation was not negated. By His death on the cross, Christ crushed the devil; and by His Resurrection, death and corruption were defeated. So, the Church, the Body of Christ, continues to travel through history facing much tribulation, turmoil and martyrdom from the God-opposed, God-fighting powers that continuously crucify the flesh of Christ. In the end, the Church will be victorious, triumphant, because Christ defeated the devil, the world and death! The Church sanctifies nature and leads it to the Kingdom of God. So if the book of Genesis gives us an account of the creation of man and his fall, the book of the Revelation describes apocalyptically the journey of the Church, of the faithful through the history of creation, and more specifically, the rebirth, re-creation, and the eternal glory of man and the visible creation. The book of the Revelation, which we are introducing today, contains the entire mystery of the Divine dispensation, of Divine economia, in the form of a summary—from the Incarnation of the Word of God up to the Second Coming of Christ, the Judgment Day and the appearance of the Kingdom of God.
To give you a bird’s eye view I tell you this; in one scene alone in the book of the Revelation, the Mystery of Incarnation is made manifest. In chapter twelve we read about the woman who holds a male child. Before she gave birth, the beast was waiting for the pregnant woman to give birth so he could grab the newly born child and devour it! However, when the child was born, the woman was led into the desert, and the beast ran behind the woman spewing water from his mouth like a river to sweep her away with the flood. However he does not reach the child because the child ascends into heaven. My friends, this is the entire history of the Incarnation. The devil, according to one of our Church Fathers, was searching out the virgins even from the Old Testament to see which one would give birth to the Messiah. However, according to St. Ignatius of Antioch, the male child escaped the attention of the prince of this world. The devil was not informed about the Son of God’s birth from the Virgin. The devil had no clue. The devil is not omnipresent. Nor does he know everything. However, he kept a close watch. We see this very clearly in the book of the Revelation, 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! (Rev.12: 4)
Now the woman swept away in the torrent signifies the Theotokos, or the Church. The person of the woman here has two aspects, two applications—the Theotokos, or the Church. Certainly the Church, because the Church is the body of Christ, which body Christ received from the Theotokos, the Panagia. Consequently, the Theotokos and the Church are the same thing, with two views or aspects. So here, we have two sides of the same coin. The Church is persecuted, the disciples and the Theotokos are persecuted, but the child was snatched up to heaven. In other words, we have the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ. The devil can no longer do anything to the child. He cannot go to Heaven; so then, he pursues the woman in the desert. He turns against the Church, day in and day out, and we can see in this scene alone the cross section of the mystery of God’s holy economy. Scenes like this permeate the book of the Revelation. So the book of the Revelation refers to the establishment and the expansion of the Church of Christ; the Kingdom of God on earth, which is the Church; the unfolding of the battle between the Church (or the woman) and the beast, or the God-opposing powers. We will see what these God-opposing powers are. In the end, the plagues take place against the beast, against the unbelieving world. The Church is triumphant. Christ comes, judges the world, the devil is bound, and the Kingdom of God glows! This is the general diagram of the book of the Revelation. The central theme of the book is the Second Coming of Christ as Judge and King! The book begins and ends with this same theme. The Church—the bride—and the Spirit who remains in the Church will say, Come Lord Jesus! And the response is, Yes, I am coming soon!
This describes the state of expectation, characteristic of both the book and the Church. The Church is expecting Christ; it awaits Him as Judge and as King to put away all evil—to expel the devil so sin will cease to exist, so corruption and decay will cease to exist, so death will cease to exist. The central idea of the book is Jesus Christ, the Second Coming of Christ, Christ coming back as Judge and King. We will also notice, as we progress, the repeated usage of a seven-fold system. This will be more obvious during the analysis of the book. Again, the central theme is the battle between the Kingdom of God and the God-opposing power, with the resulting triumph of the Church of Christ. The purpose of the book of the Revelation is both the preparation of the faithful to face the tribulation that awaits them, and the consolation and strengthening of the faithful that they might fight the good fight up to the end. All these things that I am referring to in a few words are recorded in the book of the Revelation with visions, images, and descriptions that make up its symbolic language. To be sure, the book of the Revelation is primarily a prophetic book. However, prophecy does not only reveal future events, but the present as well! Thus, we have here prophecy in its broad sense. Our Lord Himself instructs John, Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter. (1:19)
According to our Tradition, St. John was exiled to the island of Patmos, the cave of the Revelation. The cave is still there today. John used to pray there incessantly. According to tradition, on a certain Sunday—as he will tell us in the beginning of the book—he was in the spirit and he saw these revelations and visions which he recorded following the command of Christ, Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter. (1:11) From this we see that the book of the Revelation is prophetic. We mentioned that prophecy in its broad sense is not limited to the future, but may contain or include the future, the present, and even the past. We will explain. When a prophecy pertains to the future, it comes to reveal something that will take place in the future and which is unknown to every created being. The future is not known to any man or angel, or even to the devil! In reality, the future is known to God and to no one else! Therefore, prophecy is a privilege of the true God only, and if you will, it is a privilege of our true Orthodox Faith. The prophecy can also pertain to the present—to whatever thing or event escapes the attention of the people at that time. For example, when St. John the Baptist is called a prophet, what do you think; did he prophesy the future? No! St. John prophesied the present! He did not prophesy the future, nor did he prophesy the past. St. John the Baptist prophesied the present only, and the nucleus of his prophecy was, “Here is the Messiah! Here is the lamb of God!” The leaders of the people asked him, “Who are you? Are you the Messiah?” No, I am not the Messiah! I am the voice of the one calling and crying out in the wilderness! I am here to witness for the Messiah. The One who has been before me time-wise, is now in front of me! The One who is more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie! (John 1:23) John is prophesying about Christ, but Christ is already present! John the Baptist is a great prophet, but he is only prophesying the present. We must add that it is more difficult to prophesy the present than to prophesy the future.
Finally, a prophecy also pertains to the past if it prophesies those things that human eye has not seen. When Moses, for instance, records in the book of Genesis the creation of man and the world, how does he know these things? He is writing prophetically! Therefore, he is a prophet referring to the past. To add another dimension to the meaning of prophecy which we set forth above, prophecy has the element of teaching. It comes to advise—to move people towards straight paths and repentance, to bring consolation and encouragement to those who are fighting the hard fight of the spiritual life, and so on. Many times the prophets come to strengthen and help people and move them towards repentance, and to elevate those who listen to them. So prophecy does not limit itself to what happened and what will happen, but also comes to teach God’s people how they must walk. For this reason—I underline this—please make a mental note of this; we must not look at the book of the Revelation in the narrow sense of prophecy, as a book that will reveal the future to us! Not so, my friends! The book of the Revelation will take us back into the past and the present as well. Our Lord said, What is now—those things that exist now—not necessarily the symbolic images that John was seeing in the vision. No, when John writes about Babylon the great prostitute (the great harlot), meaning Rome, Rome is not limited to that period of two thousand years ago. “What is now” is also valid for today, so we must not limit our interpretation to the historical facts only. Thus, “what is now” is for today and for tomorrow—it refers to the present.
We need to understand that the book of the Revelation transcends the past, present, and future. It comes to comfort, to uplift, to restore, to warn, to call out, to point out the Antichrist, and this is at all times, at all seasons, but especially at times when spiritual awareness is very low. The book of the Revelation is a very graphic book, with much inexpressible grace and freshness despite some of these horrific images. This book has a freshness about it—a certain tenderness. It is a true masterpiece of the Holy Spirit, and it becomes truly delightful for the person who can catch on and see some of its wonders. It is written in the common dialect of the Hellenistic times. The scope of its literature is so interesting that foreign scholars claim that the book of the Revelation employs its own grammar, and this makes it very graceful. It is not extremely rich in its vocabulary. In this, it is similar to St. John’s Gospel, which, although it has the poorest vocabulary of the four Gospels, flies in the stratosphere of theology. It is the most theological of all the Gospels. St. John mimics the kenosis (emptying) of God the Word, Who takes on the poverty of human existence. The very Word of God became poor, and through these lowly and poor words that St. John uses, the wealth of theology is made manifest—the wealth of the Kingdom of God. This wealth is so abundant that it runs over and beyond the meaning of the words themselves. It is something so fantastic, so amazing, that only the person who familiarizes himself with this book of the Revelation can discover all these elements and wonders in a way that they never exhaust themselves. Again, it is a true masterpiece. It has unity, symmetry, great rhythm, it has powerful wording despite the poverty of the words. It has wealth—wealth of color and tone. It has a great variety of topics, a certain flexibility, and a vivacity. Its charm magnetizes the person who reads and studies it.
There is no other book in the history of humanity that has as many commentaries, writings, and references as this book. A great number of books have been written, are being written, and will be written about the book of the Revelation. It is a great treasure, a book of great depth that awakens people’s consciences! It amazes people with its wonderful imagery and scenery. The main scene is Heaven and Earth. Its place of reference is the entire Universe. Its time frame is not limited to the Earth’s history, but moves beyond to the universal history and eternity. This is why we would be making an interpretive mistake if we would wish to interpret the book of the Revelation based on a certain topography, a certain geography such as the United States, or Greece, or Constantinople. Many of you who have studied apocalyptic literature will know exactly what I am talking about. The tendency is to want to interpret events of this book in the narrow space of New York or Iraq or Constantinople or in the limited space of the country of Greece. The book of the Revelation is not just for the Greeks, or the Americans. It is a universal book, as we mentioned—its stage is Heaven and Earth. Its period is the history of the universe and eternity.
Accordingly, as Greeks, let us not try to limit it to our national dreams and aspirations! It is very poor to try to do that, and this is why all those who try to interpret in this narrow-minded manner have missed the mark! My friends, the claims of all those who wrote books and commentaries within these narrow boundaries were false, and they were obviously ashamed! In the Greek history of interpreters, I will mention Apostolos Makrakis who wanted to interpret the book of the Revelation always in the limited geographical area of the country of Greece with Constantinople as the center! It goes without saying that when we try to interpret according to the current of each century we will not be accurate! At the beginning of the century, Makrakis tried to interpret the book of the Revelation using Mohammedanism as the dark power or the spirit of the Antichrist! There is no question that the expansion of Mohammedanism is included in the entire spectrum of this book. Except we cannot say that the book of the Revelation will deal with this current exclusively. This is a mistake! —Not Communism, nor atheism, nor materialism—can take a central theme on the stage of this book. They are simply links of the chain. They are great factors, and they are included in this book because these systems take on universal dimensions. However, the book of the Revelation does not confine itself to these systems alone. So let us never say that the Beast is communism, or Mohammedanism! This is not so! These are forerunners of the Beast, there is no doubt about it, but they are not the actual apocalyptic Beast. We are delighted that you have filled up the space of the entire church here tonight. The introduction of the book aims to attract the interest of the audience and we hope that you will bring twice as many people here with you next time so that we can outgrow the space and do our next talk in a park somewhere. However, let us be careful. Do not expect to hear in this place—while interpreting this book— let us not expect to learn if and when World War III will take place, or when the Antichrist will come, and when the Second Coming of Christ will take place! Please do not expect these things!
We need to follow the straight line of our Church. This path, my friends, was mapped out by three God-inspired people, three God-inspired Holy Fathers: St. Andrew of Caesarea of the sixth century, who wrote a commentary; St. Arethas, Archbishop of Caesarea, of the ninth century (I have both in my hands, glory be to God!); and St. Ecumenios, Archbishop of Tryki of the sixth century. (I do not have this one.) I have two complete commentaries of the book of the Revelation, in which one can see the Orthodox line of our Church, how our Church interprets the book of the Revelation. It is not mere coincidence—and we will analyze this more as we go on—again, it is not by accident that our Church Fathers did not over occupy themselves with the book of the Revelation. Panayiotis Trembelas, for example, interpreted and published commentaries on all of the books of Holy Scriptures with the exception of the book of the Revelation. Trembelas was a great, great Greek scholar of the 20th century.
We will see this in our journey of subjects. I will tell you only this; my basic resources include the great commentary of Professor Bratsiotis –the only one of its kind in the neo-Hellenic theological literature—along with Sts. Andrew and Arethas. These serve as my guides. All the others have some hidden dangers. I am telling you all this because I would not want to go astray, neither would I want to mislead you. Therefore, I urge you not to let your imagination go wild over “what’s going to happen,” and “what new things we are about to learn.” No, vigilance is required! We will learn in our long journey through this Holy Book how we are to understand this Scripture. I will certainly try to tell you something at this point—this “something” will not exhaust itself but we will continue to learn as we journey through the analysis of this book. In spite of all the things that we just mentioned, we cannot say that we do not need to look out for the signs of the times! No, we need to watch for the signs because our Lord Himself instructed us about this. He spoke to us about the signs of the end of times. He said, As soon as the twigs of the fig tree get tender and its leaves come out you know that summer is near! (Mat.24: 32) He goes on to give a number of signs in the Gospel. He tells us then you will know that the end is near. Which end, Lord? Here, there is a double image, the end of Jerusalem, and the end of the world. The book of the Revelation is a very difficult book. The prophecy is unfathomable. It runs deep. St. Ignatius instructs St. Polycarp in a letter, as he was on his way to Rome to be martyred and become food for the lions, Study the times very carefully. Anticipate the One Who is above time, the timeless One—the invisible, but for us visible. So study, pay great attention to the times, and along the way keep expecting the One Who is above time; Jesus Christ, the pre-eternal Son and Word of God. Keep expecting Him. This exhortation of St. Ignatius is very important.
However, this should not throw us into the turmoil of curiosity and the consequences of a sickly imagination. We must mention that not all people have a healthy imagination. People also have a sick and wild imagination and can make a mountain out of a molehill! Some of you can go out, use this imagination, misquote what we said here, and begin to say that Fr. Athanasios announced that World War III will be in a couple of years, or it will take place at such and such a time! People will bring this to my attention. They will ask me and I will have no clue! Why all this? Because these wild imaginations have exaggerated some things that they thought they heard, and expressed them according to their imagination. St. Irenaeus said something excellent, “It is safer and less dangerous to await the fulfillment of a prophecy than to keep trying to guess and estimate and foretell what is about to take place.” St. Andrew of Caesarea also tells us something very important, “Time and experience will reveal to the vigilant.” Time will reveal these events. Now, you will ask, “Why should we bother and where is the value if things will happen in the future? It is important for me to know in advance what this book says so I will know how to stand.”
Specifically, let us talk about the presence of the Antichrist. When he comes, he will mesmerize the masses. He will be wise, thoughtful, a philanthropist, extremely civilized. He will be an amazing personality! He will enchant the entire world! This is what the Fathers say. People will boast about his governing abilities, about his wisdom. He will be a universal king. The unions that are taking place geographically one day will solidify to a great union, and then the Antichrist will come forth. It may sound strange, but it is true! This is the warning that we have from the word of God. In those days, Prophets Elijah and Enoch will appear. These two prophets did not taste death. They will serve as prophets of the present, not the future! They will call out that this is the Antichrist, and people will be amazed. “What? He is the greatest governor this world has ever known!” “No, he is the Antichrist!” They prophesy the present. Those who are vigilant, with a pure heart, who live a spiritual life, will recognize him instantly! The rest of the masses will seize the prophets and hang them in the center of Jerusalem from the tallest tree! Now, when will all these things happen? When they happen! When will we know? When they are happening!
We will recognize each event at the time of its outcome. Therefore, as you see, how we approach and how we study the book of the Revelation is very important. When we open the book of the Revelation, we feel that we are in front of some disorder, or in front of an abyss, with no beginning and no end—an abyss of visions, depictions and images. However, in reality, there is no abyss, nothing of this sort! There is rhythm and order based on a seven-fold system. This is true throughout the entire book, which is truly amazing. It is like looking up in the sky and trying to map out in an orderly fashion six to seven thousand stars, the ones that are visible! Is this possible for us? No, it is out of the question! It is chaotic! However, it is not chaotic to the astronomer! He has mapped these stars out. He studies and he knows how to look for them.
Accordingly, the book of the Revelation is not chaotic. We can easily find the beginning, the middle, and the end. However, this is the main point; we do not know how to interpret it. This is the problem! How do we interpret the book of the Revelation without wanting to go off on a tangent? I must tell you that four different theories or methods of interpretation have been posited presented. I will mention only a few. This presents a dilemma as to which theory to use and you will see this as we proceed with our interpretation. The first theory, which has been accepted by many Church Fathers, is called “cyclical” (kyklyki). In other words, when we read the Holy Scriptures, we ask of the things that are reported by the prophet, “Are these things meant for his time, for the journey of the Church through history, or for the end of time?” In this instance, we have the progressive or eschatological method. The cyclical states this: it takes a series of visions, a circle or combination of seven events and says these seven apply to the events of this time frame. The second combination of seven applies to the events of a subsequent period until we reach the end of time. The second theory is the chronological theory, which is not repetitive or cyclical, and does not refer to the seven-fold combination. It is a journey, wherein we can say; we are now at the first chapter, or if you will, at the third chapter where reference is made to the seven Churches of Asia Minor. With this method, we might say that the first three chapters refer to the time of St. John; the chapters beyond that until the last chapter refer to the time after St. John until the end of history. In other words, according to the chronological theory, we could say that every chapter corresponds to a piece of history.
Neither of these methods of interpretation is completely accurate. St. Andrew of Cesarean prefers the cyclical, but he uses all the methods of interpretation. In other words, we must use a selective method. In some areas we will use the cyclical, in some areas the chronological, and in some the eschatological. I hope I did not succeed in confusing all of you. However, you must understand that it is difficult to grasp all of this. Again, some Fathers use a combination of these methods and this combination is called the “spiral” method. To understand this, let us say that I am ready to climb a round mountain on an uphill winding road. After climbing a huge circle, I find myself a little higher, one more circle, and I am even higher and as I get up higher the mountain, the circles become smaller. Subsequently, here I have the combination of the circular and the straight-– I start at the base and I end up at the top. So, a prophecy can begin at the beginning—when the Apocalypse was written, when the book of the Revelation was first written—and this prophecy can actually continue until the end of times, until the Second Coming of Christ. Consequently, as we see here I have the cyclical interpretation, but I also have the straight line which progresses to the top. We call this combination the spiral interpretation.
Let us see how the Church Fathers use all these to interpret. Let us look at two or three examples. St. John says in his First Epistle, Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. (2:18) It is the last hour. However, what does the last hour means? It means that the Second Coming of Christ is at hand—there is nothing beyond that. It is the last hour because you heard that the Antichrist is coming. Thus, the Antichrist is a sign of the last hour. Many other antichrists have come and this is how we know that this is the last hour. Now we seem to be all mixed up and all confused. How can we understand all this? It is really simple. We have the Antichrist, the main person, with a capital ‘A.’ All the others are small antichrist. They are all his forerunners. However, when is the last hour? The last hour begins from the moment St. John wrote the book of the Revelation! St. Paul records, but understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. (II Timothy, 3:1) Holy Apostle Paul, to what last days are you referring? St. John the Chrysostom interprets, “The last days begin at the very moment St. Paul writes his Epistle.”
Here is one more example, so we can understand even better. Christ said that Jerusalem would be destroyed; Stone will not be left upon stone. Then the powers of the Heaven will be shaken. The sun and the moon will lose their brightness. What do we have here? —One image that has two levels. The first level will take place a few years after this prophecy in 70 A.D.—the total destruction of Jerusalem. The second plane of this same image is the Second Coming of Christ and the end of times. That is the grand finale of this prophecy. The first phase was, so to speak, the semifinal; and this is the final. Consequently, at every moment in history we have the last hour—every moment. What we see here are circles that get wider and wider, and at the center of these widening circles we have the procession of the prophecy. At the first circumference of the circle, we have the interpretation of the prophecy. At a second wider circumference we have the interpretation again, and a third circumference. At the end, the great circumference of one huge circle will be touching upon the very, very end of times, the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore, this is how we will study the book of the Revelation, which means that this book is not something that was, or something that will be, but it always is. The book of the Revelation does not exhaust itself at a given time. It is a universal book that even enters the Kingdom of God itself.
St. Andrew of Caesarea says something very nice on this, “The prophets of the Old Testament were interpreted by many interpreters. However, many prophecies remain unfulfilled without reaching the end or the depth of the prophecy.” You may say, “But don’t the prophets of the Old Testament refer to Christ?” Yes, but they also refer to beyond Christ, to His Second Coming, and to the Kingdom of God. My friends, let’s never say that the prophecies of the Old Testament were all fulfilled! The coming of Christ does not exhaust the prophecies of the Old Testament. On this, St. Andrew of Caesarea once again says, “They will not be exhausted, not even in the Kingdom of God itself because it is in the Kingdom of God especially where we will be able to understand the full depth of these prophecies.”
So, by now you may begin to understand that the book of the Revelation is a tremendously deep and unfathomable book, and we need to approach it with a great deal of respect. Now at the closing of this brief introduction, I will ask you not to get discouraged if we were somewhat difficult. An introduction is always difficult. The introduction was meant to shine some light on this subject, and I hope that I did not manage to get you all confused. However, I urge you to have a little patience. Keep listening, and we will see how beautifully this book will refresh us—how we will gain greater understanding through this analysis. This book has so many great things to offer, so as we come to the end of this introduction we must keep in mind a few basic precepts about how to stand while hearing this book of God. First, let us never forget that we have in our midst the living word of God, the word of God Himself, since this book is God-inspired, like all the other books of Holy Scriptures.
Second, this word of God is deep and difficult to interpret. To gain understanding, one needs to have humility, prayer, attention, tears and persistence. Let us use the example of St. John the Evangelist, where he says, I heard a voice, ‘No one can open this scroll,’ and I started to cry, because no one could learn about the contents of this book. (Rev. 5:1-4) The angel who was guiding him came and told him, Do not weep, the book was opened by the morning star, the Son of God, the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ. So don’t weep. Why did he open the book? —Because St. John was weeping!
A third point, and something we need to be careful of; every conclusion which we will draw from this book—whether ethical, moral, or spiritual—we should not use only to instruct others. Let us apply these points to ourselves first! When Christ will say, You are not cold or hot, you are lukewarm! This is why I will spit you out of my mouth! Let us not say that He will spit out or throw up the others! No, we need to analyze and criticize our souls, ourselves first. I must question, “Am I also lukewarm? Maybe I am!” and then I will discover, if I have any sincerity, that yes, I am lukewarm and Christ is talking directly to me!
My friends, this is how we will be able to gain some understanding from the book of the Revelation so its truth can be revealed to us, at least as much as is humanly possible! In this way, we can walk this golden and bright journey of our Church in the face of the blood-shedding and life-killing swords of the godless powers all throughout history.