The book of Revelation contains an experience that resonates with all ages of intense suffering, or with ones that felt under tremendous pressure. What consolations can the book of the Apocalypse offer to our present anxieties, in the time of Covid 19?
What strikes us is that John’s are not feverish visions. The dynamic images of a world, shaken to its core, feel amazingly objective. They are indeed accounts and sensitive observations of thereal from within the imaginary. So, they send us the consoling message that there is an order, sustained by God, even in the midst of the most chaotic free fall (‘history’s falling apart’). I would like to read this as a consoling message for our age. Covid-19, with all the pain it has created, is only the surface. It is a genuine wound, but this wound should not be totalised. Underneath this exterior there is our world, which wishes to continue.
Let us note, however, that it is not a naïve continuation. There is no way of return to a happy life that would never know about the global pandemic that stuck us. The continuation is in Revelations’ terms. ‘I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and has kept my word, and hast not denied my name.’
It is a consolation for Christians. There is recovery and healing from where we are now; but only if we kept our faith. However week we have become, does not matter, even if our faith exists only as a thin pilot light. The effort to cling to our hope will allow us to rebuild the wings of our souls. Pain in our present history is always underpinned by divine consolation. We will go through this apocalyptic storm under one condition. If we repent. ‘Is many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent. I stand at the door, and knock.’
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..