Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9
The readings today are about destruction, above all the destruction of Babylon the great city and Jerusalem. The destruction of Jerusalem happened about 40 years after Jesus spoke about it. The destruction of Babylon is yet to come. There has been a great deal of speculation about what Babylon might be. If it refers to a particular country, America is a likely candidate. Babylon is known for its corporations and entrepreneurs: “Your merchants were the great ones of the world.” The culture of Babylon leads the other nations astray like sorcery.
This reading is either good news or bad news depending on whether our hope is in Babylon or in heaven. Those in heaven sing “Alleluia!” because of the destruction. Why? Because salvation, glory, and strength belong to our God. No technology will bring salvation. No amount of money will bring true glory or strength. If Babylon does not symbolize some particular nation, then it does symbolize the whole commercial aspect of our modern world. This is all going to be destroyed. The new earth will come without money or possessions. Some people will cry and faint as they see everything they have built in this world pass away.
We were not made for smartphones and cars and airplanes. I have some packages coming that I ordered this past weekend during the shopping days of Black Friday. I am sort of anxiously awaiting them. One of these days, they are going to show up at the door. It is sort of like Christmas, when the packages arrive and I get to unwrap them. We know what it is to wait for material goods, or to wait for a paycheck; how much more should we be waiting for Jesus! We need to have the perspective that Jesus talks about in the Gospel: our head raised up, looking at the sky. That is where our redemption will come from. One of these days the Son of Man will come on a cloud with power and great glory.
Material things only help us live in this difficult world, this valley of tears. When Jesus comes, and the time for all that has passed, when we can finally let go of all our possessions and throw away all of our money and watch the world pass away before our eyes, our response should not be sadness at the loss. Our response should be, “Finally!”