Advent with the Apocalypse (Ch 17, Dec 19)
December 19, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.


Chapter 17 (Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent; December 19)
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery:




I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.

When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.

“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

“The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”



The first temple had been a harlot because of the worship of foreign gods; the second had been a harlot because foreign money was accepted for rebuilding and yet many who worshipped the LORD were excluded; and Herod's rebuilt temple city was a harlot who had grown rich with the wealth of her wantonness. One key to understanding the description of the fall of the great city is the economic situation prevailing in Judea in the first century CE. The emphasis in Revelation 18 is not primarily on infidelity, although this is mentioned, but on wealth. It is the merchants who weep….The kings of the earth who have been her lovers weep when they see the harlot burning (18.9). The merchants weep as they see their business destroyed (18.11-17). The shipmasters and sailors weep for their lost cargoes (18.17-19).
In later Christian interpretation, 'the woman that you saw is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth' (17.18), was said to be Rome….There is also the beast, the symbol for any foreign ruler, but at the final stage in the growth of the Book of Revelation, identified as Nero whose number was 666 (13.18)….Modern ingenuity can devise almost anything to fit the texts, but, as we know far less about contemporary events than did the original interpreter, we must speculate only within reasonable limits….The beast and the harlot are good examples of the layering in the Book of Revelation….The beasts and the harlot, insofar as they are overtly political themes, would  have attracted the greatest number of new interpretations.
With the harlot's judgement, God has 'avenged on her the blood of his servants' (19.2), showing that this judgement was the LORD returning to complete the Great Atonement, inaugurated by the sacrifice of the crucifixion. The Great High Priest had entered the holy of holies, heaven, carrying his own blood (the vision of the sacrificed Lamb in Rev. 5). After his enthronement he prepared to emerge again from the sanctuary and complete the atonement, purging the earth of evil and renewing the creation.


Musical Selection



Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!

Not for weight of glory, nor for crown and palm,
Enter we the army, raise the warrior psalm;
But for love that claimeth lives for whom He died:
He whom Jesus saveth marches on His side.
By Thy love constraining, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!

Jesus, Thou hast bought us, not with gold or gem,
But with Thine own lifeblood, for Thy diadem;
With Thy blessing filling each who comes to Thee,
Thou hast made us willing, Thou hast made us free.
By Thy grand redemption, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!

Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe,
But the King’s own army none can overthrow;
’Round His standard ranging, vict’ry is secure,
For His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.
Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!

Chosen to be soldiers, in an alien land,
Chosen, called, and faithful, for our Captain’s band;
In the service royal, let us not grow cold,
Let us be right loyal, noble, true and bold.
Master, wilt Thou keep us, by Thy grace divine,
Always on the Lord’s side—Savior, always Thine!

God of life,
in the child who was born of the Virgin Mary
you revealed to the world the radiance of your glory.
Grant that we may celebrate
with full and reverent faith
this great mystery of the Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen.