Wednesday 24 August 2022
Apocalypse 21:9-14. Your friends tell the glory of your kingship, Lord – Psalm 144(145):10-13, 17-18. John 1:45-51.
You will see heaven laid open, and the Son of Man
Today’s readings take us from the ridiculous to the sublime. We begin with the ridiculous: in John, Nathanael mocks the backwater, Nazareth – the idea of the Messiah originating there is absurd. The sublime comes in a sting in the tail of the Psalm: ‘The Lord is just … and kind … near … in truth.’ It’s a sting in the tail because what comes before sounds a lot like other Ozymandian boasts: ‘glory … power … mighty deeds … splendour.’ But the splendour of the Judeo-Christian Lord comes, ironically, directly out of humility: growing up in Nazareth, staying ‘near’ to the lowly. In traditional imagery, it’s a donkey for whom the valleys will be raised and the mountains laid low and the paths made straight – a divine joke at the expense of the haughty. The apocalyptic New Jerusalem acknowledges that the joyful joke was first told to Israel, not to be forgotten.