Advent with Revelation (Ch 9)
December 05, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.


Chapter 9 (Monday of the Second Week of Advent)

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit; he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given authority like the authority of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.

In appearance the locusts were like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had scales like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails like scorpions, with stings, and in their tails is their power to harm people for five months. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

The first woe has passed. There are still two woes to come.

Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels were released, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, to kill a third of humankind. The number of the troops of cavalry was two hundred million; I heard their number. And this was how I saw the horses in my vision: the riders wore breastplates the colour of fire and of sapphire and of sulphur; the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulphur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of humankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulphur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they inflict harm.

The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshipping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.


The fifth and sixth trumpets introduce a big change in the atmosphere. First, a (fallen) angel opens the shaft of the abyss; black smoke emerges and darkens the universe, and out of the depths come tormenting spirits (half-locust, half-scorpion) who so sting and torture human beings that they prefer death to life. Then, terrifying beyond all imagination, the earth is inundated with demonic horses and riders, their breastplates the color of fire, with fire and smoke and sulphur issuing from their mouths, grievously wounding both with their mouths and with their tails. They do not have the effect of converting men but only harden them in their abandonment of God and their perverse doings. The new plagues, in the wake of the opening of the abyss and the abolition of life’s restraints (the boundary of the Euphrates), give a fantastic portrayal of the demonization of human history (“two hundred million”)....Before the seventh trumpet, heralding the third “woe”, there is a new interlude, more dramatic than the first, but also enacted vertically between earth and heaven (11:1-13).

The Apocalypse, convulsed with lightning, blazing with conflagrations, provides us only with final, perpendicular excerpts of the last stages of dramatic action between heaven and earth, God and his creation. There is no other way of portraying this last act. This drama, in which God’s absoluteness (understood as power or as love) touches the sphere of the fragile creature, can only be a fiery event, a history of fire, made up either of devouring or of healing flames; and everyone who looks back from the vantage point of the Apocalypse, having heard the account of the entire action, is bound to sense this, in some fashion at least. 

For then God’s freedom can set free a creaturely freedom, including the freedom to say No; then he can “hand over” (edothÄ“) “the key of the shaft of the bottomless pit” (9:1). This “handing-over” is repeated more than twenty times in the Book of Revelation: the horsemen are given their insignia and hence their power; the first beast is given the power to make war against the saints; the second beast is allowed to give breath to the image of the first beast; the angels too are given bowls of wrath and the power to hurt the earth, and so forth. 

Musical Selection

Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face; here would I touch and handle things unseen, here grasp with firmer hand th'eternal grace, and all my weariness upon thee lean.

Here would I feed upon the bread of God, here drink with thee the royal wine of heav'n; here would I lay aside each earthly load, here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiv'n.

I have no help but thine, nor do I need another arm save thine to lean upon: it is enough, O Lord, enough indeed; my strength is in thy might, thy might alone.

Mine is the sin, but thine the righteousness; mine is the guilt, but thine the cleansing blood; here is my robe, my refuge, and my peace: thy blood, thy righteousness, O Lord my God.


Let the prayer of your servants rise before you, O Lord,
that with pure and undivided hearts
we may celebrate the great mystery
of the incarnation of your only-begotten Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.