Then I saw an angel come down from heaven,
holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain.
He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan,
and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss,
which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer
lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed.
After this, it is to be released for a short time.
Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment.
I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded
for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God,
and who had not worshiped the beast or its image
nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands.
They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
(Rev 20:1-4, Friday’s first Mass reading)
THERE is, perhaps, no Scripture more widely interpreted, more eagerly contested and even divisive, than this passage from the Book of Revelation. In the early Church, Jewish converts believed that the “thousand years” referred to Jesus coming again to literally reign on earth and establish a political kingdom amidst carnal banquets and festivity. However, the Church Fathers quickly kiboshed that expectation, declaring it a heresy — what we call today millenarianism .Continue reading