Revelation 14:1-3, 4b-5; Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6; Matthew 24:42a, 44; Luke 24:1-5
Recently I saw a documentary called “Alive Inside.” It briefly follows the career of a social worker who dedicated himself to bringing music to people who suffer from brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The effects of the music are startling; people who spent months or years living an almost catatonic existence, isolated from the rest of the world and from their own memories, transform when they hear the music. Some weep, some laugh, some sing, some dance; all to one degree or another and at least for awhile have awakened within a sense of their own identity, reconnecting with long-forgotten memories and the emotions that go with them. As one doctor in the film says, when they listen to certain music, people who appear virtually dead to the world show that they are very much alive inside.
Of course, no one is more alive than those who dwell in perfect union with God, and as Revelation reminds us, they hear the music of Heaven. They aren’t alone; John says he heard it, too. The reality is that the divine music is and has been all around us. The question is, do we hear it?
We do if we detect a note of urgency in the Scriptures today, as we should in all the Scriptures given to us by the Church as the year closes. We certainly hear it in the Gospel Acclamation, for Christ says to us, Stay awake! For you do not know when the Son of Man will come (Matthew 24:42,44). He knows that it’s easy for us to “fall asleep” in the spiritual life. Our natural tendency is to allow ourselves to get comfortable; to be willing to go only so far but not farther; to pray this much but not more; to be satisfied with where we are and avoid whatever seems uncomfortably challenging.
And we hear counterpoint to that comfort when our Lord speaks of the gift offered by the poor widow. Notice that what mattered to him was not the amount she gave but that she held nothing back; for love of God, she allowed the cost to herself to be the highest possible – to give from her own need. This is the kind of person of whom the psalmist sings, the one who truly longs to see the face of God, who wants for themselves and others what God wants for them, and who are willing to show that to Christ and the world by living like those in Revelation: Following the Lamb wherever he goes (Revelation 14:4b).
If we listen to the Scriptures there is no doubt that we too will hear their music. The question is not if we hear it but whether we will allow it to transform us; to move us out of our self-imposed spiritual isolation; to remind of us our identity as Christians; to re-awaken the perhaps long-forgotten memory of who we were created to be and the love we were given to share; and to show our Lord that we, like all his saints, are not dead to the world but very much alive inside.