Saturday, July 11, 2020

Adult Ed, July 9th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 6, The Woman and the Dragon, Chapter 12 (Part 6 of 9, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Outline of Session 6:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 12-14. These chapters are the heart of the book of Revelation. The Woman who stands for Israel, the Church, and Mary. The Dragon who is Satan as well as the Sea Beast and Land Beast. The mysterious number 666 and it’s meaning in the first century as well as for the end times. 
[In fact, we only covered chapter 12, the Woman and the Dragon]

Listen online [here]!


Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse
Studying the most perplexing book of the Bible with the great Catholic Scholars
Session 6 – The Woman, The Dragon, 666, Revelation 12-14

Outline of Session 6:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 12-14. These chapters are the heart of the book of Revelation. The Woman who stands for Israel, the Church, and Mary. The Dragon who is Satan as well as the Sea Beast and Land Beast. The mysterious number 666 and it’s meaning in the first century as well as for the end times.

I. Review of last week: The Seven Trumpets. Example of how the horses and riders can be interpreted as referring to modern warfare and the invention of guns/cannons.

II. From Chapter 11 to Chapter 12 – The Woman and the Dragon
11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in the temple…”   12:1 “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman…”  -- The Ark of the Covenant was lost in the days of Jeremiah, this was one of the greatest calamities that ever befell the people of Israel. An even greater disaster was the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70, when the Romans took the Temple they were reported perplexed to find the Holy of Holies empty.  But St John sees the restoration and recapitulation of the Old Testament, with a new Temple and a new Ark and a new Testament. 

Chapter 12 is not only the middle chapter of Revelation, it is the pivotal chapter and central to understanding the whole book.  Chapters 12-14 present the key figures of the Apocalypse: The Woman, the Dragon, the Beasts, 666, the Lamb and his saints. Recalling the outline of Revelation from session 2, we remember that chapters 12-14 stand out from the recurring number 7 – we had 7 Churches, 7 Seals, 7 Trumpets, then these chapters, then 7 Vials, and the remaining chapters.

“The Woman” – this is Israel, the Church, and Mary.
“Clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet” – the Sun is unchanging, the moon is changing; thus she is clothed with immortality and all the changeable world is subjected to her.
“on her head a crown of twelve stars” – 12 signifies the Covenants of God with man, and the apostles.

2:2 “And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered” – Israel suffered much through persecutions in the Old Testament, until she should bring forth the Messiah. The Church suffers much as she brings forth Christians through enduring persecutions (the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians). Finally, Mary did not suffer any pains when she gave birth to Jesus, but she suffered much at the Cross when she became the Mother of all Christians, and she is united to the Church in all the persecutions we suffer on earth. Discussion of the Virgin Birth.

2:3 “and behold a great red dragon” – This is Satan. Calls to mind the serpent and the woman of creation and the Fall.   2:9 “that great dragon… that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan”
“having seven heads, and ten horns” – This all comes from Daniel 7. Seven heads refers to the 4 beasts: lion, bear, leopard with 4 heads, Roman beast. 10 horns comes from the fourth beast of Daniel.  The heads and horns and diadems symbolize all secular powers that persecute the Church.

2:4 “And his tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered”  2:7 “And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels.” – Discussion of the fall of Satan which seems to be a rebellion from the beginning against the future promise of the Incarnation. Satan and his angels refused to serve a God who would become a mere Man. Michael (his name is humility, “Who is like God?”), not the greatest or most powerful angel but lowly and humble, defeats Satan who was the greatest of all angels. [A few comments on John Milton’s Paradise Lost – perhaps the greatest heretical work in the English language]
Lastly, notice that the dragon assaults the woman – and when Satan was cast from heaven, he attacked Eve not Adam. But he did not know that Eve was only a type of the Woman, and Mary would crush his head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception.

2:14 “for a time and times, and a half a time” – That is, 3 ½, which is a broken 7. The point is that the persecution will not last forever but only a time.   Similar to the two and forty months (13:5)

Why must we think that the Woman is not only Israel and the Church, but also Mary? Because the other figures refer to real historical persons: The child is Jesus, the dragon is Satan, Michael is Michael; but which historical person could be this Woman if not Mary? We are her children. 
Discussion also of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, as presented in Revelation 12.

III. Chapter 13: The Sea Beast and the Land Beast, 666
13:1 “And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea” – This is a different beast from the dragon, the Sea Beast. Symbolizes all the enemies of the Church and especially the secular kingdoms and governments of the world.
“having seven heads and ten horns”  13:2 “was like to a leopard … a bear … a lion” – Obvious reference again to Daniel 7. These seven heads are seven kingdoms. Haydock: “of these, five were then fallen, viz.: the Egyptian, Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian, and Grecian monarchies: one was present, viz., the empire of Rome: and the seventh and chiefest was to come, viz., the great Antichrist and his empire.”
The animal likenesses could reference certain Roman emperors (Maximian Herculeus, Galerius Maximin, and Diocletian who was like a ferocious lion). Many saints and theologians think this beast could refer specifically to the Antichrist, but all this is difficult to interpret with certainty.

13:3 “And I saw one of his heads as it were slain to death: and his death’s wound was healed.” This could refer to the Roman Empire which would become Christian under Constantine in AD 313 (the mortal wound to the beast’s head), but then returned to Paganism and persecution under Julian the Apostate ca 360 (the wound healed).  It seems that the Land Beast represents most especially Rome.
On the other hand, the wounded head recalls that the heal of Mary and of Jesus have crushed Satan’s head, but the devil still seems to have power on the earth.

13:4 “saying: Who is like to the beast?” This is the opposite of the name of Michael.

13:6 “And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God” – The language of Satan and of the damned is blasphemy. We must not tolerate blasphemy in TV or movies etc.

13:8 “the book of life of the Lamb, which was slain from the beginning of the world.” The Lamb once slain, is our Lord. The crucifixion was planned from he beginning of the world, to heal the wound of original sin and all actual sins.  The “book of life” touches upon predestination and divine knowledge.

13:11 “And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth” – This is yet another beast, the Land Beast. This beast seems to be connected more with false worship rather than specific earthly governments.
“he had two horns, like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon” – The two horns symbolize heathen priests and magicians.   Notice a sort of unholy trinity: The Dragon, the Sea Beast, the Land Beast.
This Land Beast is the prophet of the Sea Beast – could be the prophet of the antichrist, or could be all the pagan priests who promoted Roman idolatry.   “like a lamb” especially indicates an antichrist. Consider the terrifying painting in the Cathedral of Orvietto.  This could also refer to the Jewish priests and Jewish persecution of the early Christians.  Or again this could be wicked Catholic priests.
Some think that the antichrist will be Jewish, and his prophet will appeal especially to the Jews – even as the High Priest of the first century worked with the Roman authorities to persecution Christians.

13:12 “He executed all the power of the former beast in his sight” 13:13 “He did great signs” – This refers to false miracles that the antichrist and his prophet will work, imitating the true Messiah.

13:18 “It is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six” – This number could represent Nero Caesar. In Hebrew and Greek, letters are used to count numbers (before we had Arabic Numerals). The name Nero Caesar in both languages adds up to 666.  Also, the mark of the Emperor was put upon all the coins, which fulfills the references to buying and selling.
*Note that some manuscripts say 616, which is taken from the Latin version of Nero Caesar transliterated into Hebrew.

Also, 666 symbolizes 6 three times, which is to say all the power of the beast and of man – because man and beast was made on the 6th day. Further, 6 is one less than 7 which symbolizes heaven and perfection and covenant – thus, 666 is the greatest worldly false covenant.

Does 666 refer to the end of the world? Social Security numbers? COVID vaccine?  Religious syncretism? The EU and the Euro? Etc etc etc?

IV. Chapter 14: The Fall of Babylon and Victory of the Lamb
14:1 “And I beheld, and lo a lamb stood upon mount Sion”  Just when all seems lost, suddenly John sees the Lamb triumphant over all the power of hell, and the faithful are saved!
14:8 “That great Babylon is fallen, is fallen”


Post a Comment

When commenting, please leave a name or pseudonym at the end of your comment so as to facilitate communication and responses.

Comments must be approved by the moderator before being published.