Revelations 21:1-5
“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race… Behold, I make all things new.”
This New Jerusalem is described elsewhere in revelations as a cube. If it were to be placed on the United States, the northwest corner of the cube would be in the northwest corner of North Dakota. The southeast corner would take in almost all of Florida. That is a big city!
Next weekend, we will hear the city described even more with various gemstones making up the walls and the gates of the city. The streets are paved with gold. In other words, all of the things that are looked at as valuable here on earth, are so common, or lack any value, that they are used to build the eternal city of God.
But this city is also described as being so beautiful as to be compared to a bride ready for her wedding. I have lost track of how many weddings I have done as a priest. But I don’t think I have ever seen a bride who was not beautiful, each in her own way.
Earlier in the book of Revelation, after we hear the overthrow of the beasts who are representative of evil and Satan, we hear about the wedding feast of the Lamb. Jesus is the bridegroom. The Church is his bride.
And in our reading this weekend, we hear God speaking from his throne “behold, I make all things new!” It is the culmination of everything God had planned. No matter how much Satan and other evils tried to destroy the plan of God, nothing could stand in the way.
For those of you who saw The Passion of the Christ, do you remember that these words were the words Jesus spoke to his mother when she met him on the way to Calvary? “Behold I make all things new!” This sentence was placed in the movie from our reading here in the book of Revelation, even though, to our knowledge, it was not said by Jesus on the way to his death. But it fits.
So… we are called to assist, in our own ways, in the building of the New Jerusalem. What can we contribute to such a glorious city? This city, built out of the precious things of this world as though they are common building blocks, will be the most beautiful thing we will ever see, except for the face of God. So I ask again, what can we contribute to such a glorious city?
I have said this before. But I am sure that I have the right understanding here. What we contribute to the New Jerusalem are the bricks of our good works, and the mortar of our virtues.
In one gospel story, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them, for us. What will our homes be made of? The bricks of our good works, the mortar of our virtues, and the wood of the cross. These are the precious things that we will find in the city of God that are more important than gems, or gold. And Jesus is taking all of these things that we have done and turning them into part of the glorious city of God that we are called to dwell in for all eternity.
Remember this: God makes our good works and our virtues holy enough to last for all eternity, because they are done in union with the cross of Christ. This is another part of the full message of the book of Revelation. It goes back to the first couple of chapters when John hears Jesus speak words of encouragement, and correction, to 7 different churches or cities. He speaks the same encouragement to us today, so that we will have a place made ready by him that is made up of the bricks of our good works, the mortar of our virtues, and the wood of the cross.
Lord Jesus, there is so much in the book of Revelation that causes considerable confusion. But you have used it to cause holiness for those who listen. Help us to turn our hearts to the holiness that this world needs in order to better understand and embrace the wonders of your love.
Help us to be instruments of your holiness so that we can build what you need here on this earth in anticipation of the glorious bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem. You have said that you make all things new. Make us new, not for our sakes, but so that the glory that is yours can shine through us so that the world will come to know who you are. Amen.