The Keys of Hades
When I saw him I fell at his feet as though dead
But he laid his right hand upon me, saying,
“Fear not, I am the living one.
I died and behold I am alive for evermore,
and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
And another book was opened, which is the book of life,
and the dead were judged by what was written in the books,
by what they had done.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.
The prophets are called to their vocation by a vision of God and by a purifying touch, as when Isaiah, seeing the Lord in the Temple, was purified by the touch of the coal from the heavenly altar even as he protested his unworthiness (Isaiah 6:1–9). The text from Revelation 1 describes the call of John to his prophetic vocation by the touch of Christ’s right hand. He sees Jesus, “One like a son of man.… His head and hair were white as white wool, white as snow; His eyes were like a flame of fire…. From His mouth issued a sharp, two edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full strength.” This dramatic vision of Christ with the keys is the first of four in John’s Apocalypse. He is the Lamb standing on the throne surrounded by the praises of angels, men, and the great living animals in 5:6–14 and also the child born of the woman clothed with the sun who is caught up to God’s throne (12:4–5). He is the crowned knight mounted on His white horse, called the Word of God, the sword of God’s justice issuing from His mouth, His robe dipped in the blood of His sacrifice, with on His robe and thigh written “King of Kings and Lord of Lord” (19:11–16). And finally He is Emmanuel, God dwelling with men in the New Jerusalem, welcoming those who love Him, wiping tears from faithful eyes and welcoming His servants into the land where there is only life and glory, no pain or mourning (20:3–4). Continue reading “Thoughts on the Second Reading for the Second Sunday in Easter”