November 26, 2012 - Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

The book of Revelation can be very confusing, especially when people do not read it carefully. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, have based several doctrines off of a clear misreading of today’s text. They say that heaven is full. That there is only room for 144,000 and all the spots are taken. Actually reading the whole chapter reveals that these 144,000 are male virgin Israelites. They are given a song to sing and only they can sing it. The point seems to be this song. It sounds like running water. It sounds like thunder. It sounds like harps. And only these male virgin Israelites can sing it. John sees a whole multitude of other people in heaven. He also has other groups who sing other songs: the 24 elders, the martyrs, and more.

What is heaven like? This question is present to us from the moment we first heard as children that there is such a place. Poets try to describe it, and people come back from sickness and injury with descriptions, and we are fascinated. Does it really exist? Is it truly wonderful? How do I get there? Every description is simply analogies because it must be beyond our understanding. And this analogy that John gives us in the book of Revelation is that heaven is like a concert. There are various choirs and every choir sings its own song.

This is the Communion of the Saints, expressed through music. Perhaps you feel like there are many people you know who have lives similar to yours, who understand you and what you are going through, or perhaps not. Perhaps you feel that your life is unique, between your work and family and the things you have suffered and what you have desired. I suppose that in the world of 7 billion people, or rather in the history of the world of 100 billion people, there have been many people like me, unusual as I am, and like each of you, unique as you are. When we meet in heaven, we will gather with them and sing a song which no one else without those experiences can sing. And not only sing, but listen too. We will understand those who are different from us as we listen to them sing their song. Each of these songs, in praise of God, revealing an aspect of human experience. When we sing our song and listen to the other songs, that will be heaven.