Revelation 1:1-4, 2:1-5

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33rd Week of Ordinary Time

First Reading

This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that he could tell his servants about the things which are now to take place very soon; he sent his angel to make it known to his servant John, and John has written down everything he saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they treasure all that it says, because the Time is close.

From John, to the seven churches of Asia: grace and peace to you from him who is, who was, and who is to come, from the seven spirits in his presence before his throne.

I heard the Lord saying to me: ‘Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus and say, “Here is the message of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who lives surrounded by the seven golden lampstands. I know all about you: how hard you work and how much you put up with. I know you cannot stand wicked men, and how you tested the impostors who called themselves apostles and proved they were liars. I know, too, that you have patience, and have suffered for my name without growing tired. Nevertheless I have this complaint to make; you have less love now than you used to. Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first.”‘

Historical Notes

The 7 churches of Asia refer to communities of early Christians in Asia Minor, now Turkey. These are: Ephesus (Selcuk), Smyrna (Izmir), Pergamum (Bergama), Thyatira (Akhizar), Sardis (Sart), Philadelphia (Alasehir) and Laodicea (Denizli). These were former ancient Greek cities. Present-day Turkey is mostly Islam. Only 0.2% are Christians. The Turkish constitution provides for freedom of religion. There are more than 200 Christian churches in Turkey today that are open for worship.

Alaşehir Church of St. John.jpg
By simonjenkins’ photos (Αρχικό) Wolfymoza (Ανέβασμα) – Church of St John, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Reflection

It’s sad to think that Turkey, ancient name Anatolia, was once home to many Christian churches — seven of which are mentioned in the book of Revelation — now all gone. Turkey is also the birthplace of St Paul; and the place where St John the Evangelist and Mary, mother of Jesus, were last known to have lived.

If Ephesus has remained what it was, it could have been a favourite pilgrim site of Christians.