‘Is there anyone worthy to open the scroll and break the seals of it?’ But there was no one, in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, who was able to open the scroll and read it. I wept bitterly because there was nobody fit to open the scroll and read it, but one of the elders said to me, ‘There is no need to cry: the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and he will open the scroll and the seven seals of it.’ (Apocalypse 5:1-10)
Wonderful and consoling words. They speak with relevance about mission. Often, when we feel inadequate to produce visible growth, this vision comes to our help. When ‘nobody is able to open the scroll’, when we cannot find answers, have no resources, or the right action -no worries. We need to step back, and recognise who is the source of our efforts.
Amidst our present ordeals ‘there is no need to cry’. Our failure is transient in the light of Christ. ‘He will open the scroll and the seven seals of it.’ It is a powerful reminder: the ultimate source of our actions is the coming, fulfilled life of the Church. Failure and success, stagnation and growth both teach us that the Christian mission is rooted in the life of Heaven. This is the ‘time’, for which we have no tense and grammatical construct. The book of the Apocalypse presents us with it, demonstrates its existence. Let us be challenged by this experience, which is beyond words, but never out of reach.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..