Reconciliation Lectionary: Revelation 20:11-15

mary-the-penitent.jpgOne of the apocalyptic narratives from Revelation holds a dire warning for those not be named in the book of life.

Here’s the text in full:

Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it.
The earth and the sky fled from his presence
and there was no place for them.
I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne,
and scrolls were opened.
Then another scroll was opened, the book of life.
The dead were judged according to their deeds,
by what was written in the scrolls.
The sea gave up its dead;
then Death and Hades gave up their dead.
All the dead were judged according to their deeds.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire.
(This pool of fire is the second death.)
Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life
was thrown into the pool of fire.

Okay, then.

Flippancy aside, I think the sensible Christian must confront these more difficult passages, and weigh them in context of the entire Gospel. There can be no denial that there are consequences for those who are not found in the book of life.

Obviously, Christ, not any mortal human being, is in charge of this. But gaining the displeasure of God is not something to be trifled with. And perhaps there are times when a person needs motivation from potential consequences. For use with a single penitent, this is in the confessor’s hands. For use with a larger assembly, I’m not sure a reading like this can be used any more than rarely. But you may feel differently. If so, please comment.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Reconciliation Lectionary: Revelation 20:11-15

  1. John Mack says:

    St. Maximus (from the eastern Roman Empire, which had restored its authority to much of Italy) taught that no human being can be saved until every human being is saved. Knowledge of one’s sins would be hellishly painful, but the ability to repent would always be there (thus the prayers for the dead really mattered), even in hell. The Emperor was enraged, Maximus fled to the Pope, who endorsed his teaching. The Emperor had the Pope and Maximus arrested, the pope beheaded and Maximus brought back to Constantinople to be tried as a heretic. Initially condemned and exiled, Maximus was eventually exonerated. He is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western churches.

    The teachings of St. Maximus are compatible with the passage cited.

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