The angel spoke to me, saying,
I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."
He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. - Revelations 21:9-14 (22-27)
I admit that when I read today's first reading, I was clueless. Revelations is the book that scholars believe was written in code so that believers could communicate without being persecuted for their faith.
For some reason though, I was drawn to the passage. The imagery is very vivid and I became curious. What the hell does it mean?
I opened my trusty Catholic Women's Devotional Bible (NRSV) and looked for today's reading. I found this article by Maria Boulding called Transparency:
Painfully we have to unlearn our mistaken notions about glory, so that we can learn Christ's values and learn discipleship, consenting to serve and to be emptied and to let the light shine through us. For Christ's first nine months on earth, Mary was his only visible medium; he shone only through her, as the sunlight shines with a special color through the windows at Chartes. Today, believers are his transparencies. If the light is to come through we have to be servants of the covenant-love, wherever and in whatever way may be required, not for our own aggrandizement but in self-forgetting; and this is indeed glorious, although it does not feel like it.
Jerusalem stands not only for the Church as whole, but for every lover of God; "and the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb." It is not your glory but his, and you have to consent to be transparent, to be the lantern not the light, like John the Baptist. Are you prepared to let this glory shine through you, through your unselfish loving, your smiling, your unselfseeking service and humility? Are you prepared to let the joy of the Lord radiate to others through you? In no other way "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all people shall shall see it together" (Isaiah 40:5). It will be visible only if we allow Christ to be born in our lives and shine through us.