Advent with Revelation (Ch 22)
December 18, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Chapter 22 (Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever. 

And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.’ 

‘See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’ 

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’ 

And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.’ 

‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ 

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises falsehood. 

‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 

The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.


The seven “letters” introduced by the initial vision, in which Christ holds in his hand the spirits or angels of the communities, form the first half of the framework that serves to situate what is to be seen. In this case, the focus is most precisely on the Christian life and values cultivated in the various communities and in individual groups within them. Thus we read of a love that is perfect and one that has fallen from its erstwhile fullness (2:4); a humility that thinks itself poor yet is rich (2:9); a faith that, in some people, is vulnerable and can turn to unbelief (2:13f.); a kind of progress in Christianity that is insufficiently consistent (2:19f.); a pseudo-vitality that is in fact moribund and needs to be shaken into life (3:1f.); a weakness that yet can hold fast to the Lord in faithfulness (3:8); and, finally, a dangerous lukewarmness that thinks itself rich but in reality is wretchedly poor, blind and naked; it is sharply rebuked, for “those whom I love, I reprove and chasten” (3:17, 19). All these communities are given promises that refer beyond the scenario of the battle visions to the second and concluding part of the framework, namely, that new world created by God where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (21:4).

Finally, the beginning and the conclusion fit together as a single framework. Again the Lord speaks: “Behold, I am coming soon” (22:7), to which the Spirit and the Bride reply: “Come” (22:17, 20). As at the beginning, the Lord declares himself to be “the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (22:13): he is the complete framework for that entire drama that embraces world history and the end-time.

Thus the Book of Revelation retains its peerless character as a book of vision, opening up perspectives that, once opened, can never be shut. On the other hand, it is only continuing something begun by the entire New Testament (to say nothing of the Old). Not only does it take up the Synoptic apocalypses, often in astonishing detail, to orchestrate them on a mighty scale—and it does the same with the apocalyptic passages in Paul (1 and 2 Th; 1 Cor 15); it also takes up the theme of the tension between the “already” and the “not yet”. Ultimate redemption has “already” been achieved: we have only to come to the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22);6 but we do “not yet” possess it in fullness since we live by faith, in conflict with the anti-Christian powers (1 Jn) and the more-than-human rulers of darkness (Eph 6). Everywhere, therefore, we find fully developed the dramatic tension that is specific to Christianity. This similarity is more important at the moment than the difference between them. (The difference is this: in the Book of Revelation, all transitional nuances of the Christian’s struggle, in faith, hope, love, conversion and penitence, which are prominent features of the Gospels and Letters, disappear in favor of a stark characterization of the opposing fronts.) 

Evidently, this withdrawal from historical truth into visionary truth was the only possible way of presenting a more universal panorama, given that the prospects for the future opened up by the rest of the New Testament were primarily existential in kind—for “it is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7).  

Musical Selection 

He is the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

And the Spirit and bride say, “Come.”

And let him who heareth say, “Come.” 

And let him who is athirst, come. 

And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

He which testifieth these things saith, “Surely I come quickly.” 

Even so, “Come, Lord Jesus.” (Robert Cundick)


Eternal God,
in the psalms of David,
in the words of the prophets,
in the dream of Joseph
your promise is spoken.
At last, in the womb of the Virgin Mary
your Word takes flesh.
Teach us to welcome Jesus, the promised Emmanuel,
and to preach the good news of his coming,
that every age may know him
as the source of redemption and grace.

Grant this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.