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As the Sickle Swings

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It’s not over until the Lord says it’s over.” ~ T.D. Jakes

More brilliant divine imagery in our 1st Reading today, once again courtesy of the Book of Revelation (Rev: 14:14-19) wherein the topic of final judgement takes center stage. In this passage, John envisions the one who he identifies as the Son of Man, sitting upon a cloud adorned with a gold crown on his head and a razor sharp sickle in his hand. It was then that an angel cried out in a loud voice to the Son of Man to “Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.” And with that Jesus swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth, we’re told, was “harvested.”

This dramatic image symbolizes the harvest of the first fruits of God, referenced earlier in the 14th Chapter of Revelation (14:4). All who have been consecrated to God are likened to those who were taken to the temple and offered to God back in the days of Moses (Exodus 23:9). Included also in this “judgement day harvest” are the saved ~ those who have the name of Christ upon them, and their names written in His book of life.

John then speaks of another angel who appeared out of the temple in heaven, he too armed with a sickle. Then another herald appeared from the altar, this one in charge of the fire. He cried out in a loud voice to the one who had the sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth’s vines, for its grapes are ripe.” With that, the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth’s vintage. We are then told that “He threw it into the great wine press of God’s fury,” a metaphor for the eternally damned being cast into hell. This wine-press, where the grapes are crushed and where the juice, resembling blood, flows out, symbolizes the destruction of the wicked in the last day.

Sadly, these are the ones who are quite literally “ripe for judgement,” our Lord’s mercy and many warnings having failed to produce reformation in their hearts. The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah would foreshadow this grim and ghastly scene (63:2-4): “Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the wine press? I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the people’s no one was with me; I tried them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood splattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart.”

This past Sunday, our Church celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, perhaps better known as the Christ the King Sunday https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Daily-Mass-Reflections-1125. This most sacred of days celebrates Jesus’ sovereignty over all creation. All things were created through Him. All things are redeemed through Him. And all people will be judged by Him. In Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus speaks of that day of great judgement, wherein he will “place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” As our King, Jesus has the right to set the standard by which we will be judged. He goes on in this passage to essentially provide us with the roadmap to Heaven, explaining that we will in fact inherit the Kingdom if we are to remember and act upon this very simple premise: “Whatever you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me.”

In our RCIA Class on Sunday, our Candidates and Catechumens were asked to honestly assess their own lives in order to determine whether they would be counted among the goats or the sheep. One young man at our table had in my estimation the response of the day: “I am a goat....working on sheephood.” Aren’t we all? But work and work diligently we must, for it is best to take the advice of Albert Camus who said “Don’t wait for the last judgement; it takes place every day.”

“Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” ~ Revelation 2:10

Comments

Francesco Menchise from Brisbane Australia on November 25, 2020:

It is good to believe all this, but I wonder if JOHN had to write revelations again today, if He would write them the same way?