5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER–5/2/10
by Msgr. Eric R. Barr, STL
READINGS: ACTS 14:21-27; REVELATION 21:1-5; JOHN 13:31-33, 34-35
I. Nightmares And Things That Go Bump In The Night
A. Remember waking up from your last nightmare? Clammy with sweat; heart pounding; looking around wildly to see if what you dreamed had followed you into the real world. Just as individuals can have nightmares, so can humanity. And one of the greatest nightmares that seems imbedded in our collective human memory is the nightmare of the Four Horsemen.
B. St. John gave this horror flesh and bones in the Book of Revelation, but the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have always been with humanity. John pictures them riding to judgment on a world decayed by sin and deliberate rejection of God. They are Conquest, War, Famine and Death and millions fall under their sword and the pounding hooves. And they are the nightmare of the future, destined to come riding across the human landscape.
C. Even in our modern day, poets and storytellers evoke this nightmare of a future gone mad with terror and despair. William Butler Yeats, a great poet, summed up the nightmare in two lines from his poem "Second Coming": "And what rough beast, its hour come at last, Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?" Televangelists and traveling preachers keep shouting at us–"The End is coming! The world will be destroyed by conquering armies, violent warfare, famine/pestilence, and death! And looking at the events in the world, there’s just enough truth in what they say to make us fear the future.