Advent with the Apocalypse (Ch 18, Dec 20)
December 20, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.


Chapter 18 (Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent; December 20)


After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:

“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
    She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
    a haunt for every unclean bird,
    a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
For all the nations have drunk
    the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
    and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

“‘Come out of her, my people,’
    so that you will not share in her sins,
    so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
    and God has remembered her crimes.
Give back to her as she has given;
    pay her back double for what she has done.
    Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
Give her as much torment and grief
    as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
    ‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;
    I will never mourn.’
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
    death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
    for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

“When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    you mighty city of Babylon!
In one hour your doom has come!’

“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

“They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
    and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’

“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    where all who had ships on the sea
    became rich through her wealth!
In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’

“Rejoice over her, you heavens!
    Rejoice, you people of God!
    Rejoice, apostles and prophets!
For God has judged her
    with the judgment she imposed on you.”

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:

“With such violence
    the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
    never to be found again.
The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters,
    will never be heard in you again.
No worker of any trade
    will ever be found in you again.
The sound of a millstone
    will never be heard in you again.
The light of a lamp
    will never shine in you again.
The voice of bridegroom and bride
    will never be heard in you again.
Your merchants were the world’s important people.
    By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people,
    of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”

In 18.1 the light in the sanctuary, the bright angel coming from heaven, announces the fall of the city. The words are drawn from Isaiah and are allusions rather than quotations. It is impossible to know exactly how someone in the first century CE would have understood Isaiah 21.9, the first source, but it gives an extraordinary glimpse of an ancient seer in Jerusalem, and the experience of the seer of Revelation may well have been similar. He stands in his watch tower day and night (the holy of holies was often described as a tower) and he waits for news (Isa. 21.8). He hears an unnamed speaker announce 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon', and he then reports what he has heard from the LORD. The one who spoke to the seer in the holy of holies must have been the LORD….The whole of chapter 18 is in the style of the ancient prophets, not because the first-century prophets consciously imitated their style, but because they too were prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The letters to the seven churches are proof that the Jesus, the risen LORD, continued to speak through his prophets.
Musical Selection
Suscitavit Dominus super Babyloniam et super
habitatores ejus quasi ventum pestilentum, misit
ventilatores et ventilabunt et demolientur eam.
Fugite gentes, fugite populi, fugite de medio
Babylonis et salvet unusquisque animam suam.
Super muros ejus levate signum, augete custodiam,
praeparate insidias, acuite sagittas,
implete pharetram, quia ultio Domini est mors
ejus est ut perdat eam et ponat urbem fortem in
Fugite gentes, fugite populi, fugite de medio
Babylonis et salvet unusquisque animam suam.
Infelix Babylon quae habitas super aquas multas,
locuples in thesauris, venit finis ejus, venit in finibus
ejus, venit dies perditianis tuae, cassaverunt
fortes tui in proelio, habitaverunt in insidiis,
devoratum est robur earum, incensa sunt
tabernacula tua.
Fugite gentes, fugite populi, etc.
The Lord rose up against Babylon, and against them
that dwelt in her, a destroying wind; and he sent
fanners that they should fan her, and destroy her.
Flee, ye nations, flee, ye peoples, flee out of the
midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul.
Set up the standard upon her walls, make the
watch strong, prepare the ambushes, make bright
the arrows, gather the shields, for the vengeance
of the lord is her death, it is to destroy
her, and make of the defended city an heap.
Flee, ye nations, flee, ye peoples, flee out of the
midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul.
O unhappy Babylon, thou that dwellest upon many
waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come,
the day of thy calamity; thy mighty men have forborn
the fight, they remain in their snares: their
might hath failed, and thy tabernacles are burnt.
Flee, ye nations, flee, ye peoples, etc.
O God,
by consenting to the message of an angel
the immaculate Virgin became the dwelling of your eternal Word
and was filled with the light of the Holy Spirit.
Give us the grace to follow her example
and devote ourselves humbly to your will.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.