19 November 2008 Wednesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Revelations 4, 1-11; Psalm 150; Luke 19, 11-28
Many of us find signs and symbols like horoscopes amusing. We don’t put our faith in it, but we enjoy the ‘classification’ because it somehow gives us a certain handle in understanding people. Many do find some descriptions of the Zodiac or the animals in the Chinese calendar true to one’s personality. For example, I am a Scorpio, born in the Year of the Monkey. Some descriptions of Scorpions are true according to my present self-knowledge (though I know the description of others also applies to me). Today, we hear some of these signs in Revelations.
The first reading tell us of four heavenly creatures. In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet finds himself in a great storm with gushing winds. Within the storm, Ezekiel saw the throne of God being drawn by four creatures. Each creature had four faces: man, lion, ox and eagle. Revelation assigned one face to each of the bearers of the throne. They took the image from the Babylonian signs of the Zodiac. The ox is Taurus, an earth sign. The lion, Leo, is a fire sign. The man is Scorpio since scorpions are drawn with a human face, a water sign. The eagle symbolized air, the fourth element. It also serves as a sign of sovereignty over the whole Roman empire.
The Christians assigned each symbol to the four evangelists at a later date and have become objects of art especially in iconography: Matthew is symbolized by a man; Mark by a lion; Luke by a bull; and John by an eagle. However, there has been a time that these symbols were set aside because there was a tendency to attribute it to astrology.
If we summarize these symbols, it means that God is sovereign over all the elements of the cosmos (earth, fire, water, air) and over the signs of the zodiac. God is Supreme!
Furthermore, the vision in Revelations changes wherein all the creatures of heaven sing the Divine Praises, the three-fold “Holy, Holy, Holy”. And therefore we are brought to the meaning of the whole passage: God is Creator and Lord of all that exists! Heaven and earth praise and glorify Him.
How do we apply this in our lives? We can easily apply the message of Revelation in worship. In the liturgy, we sing the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy). When we sing the Sanctus, we join the angels and the saints in glorifying and praising God. In liturgy, when we sing, we offer our acclamations (meaning: shouts of praise such as the Gospel alleluia, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and the Great Amen) as an image of the worship of God in heaven. It is said that every time we sing them, we, on earth should feel that we are one with every one in heaven in glorifying God!
When we are done with our worship, we are asked to continue glorifying God through our talents, works and lives. The Gospel is the Parable of the Talents. When we use our talents well, we mirror the greatness of the Creator. Our artistic talents mirrors the beauty of God. Our service is an image of the love of God for His creatures. Our kindness reflects the gentleness and mercy of God. This is what it means when we glorify God --- every thing that we do should mirror the greatness, beauty, and love of God. Our works should sing of His praises!