Tutu: Revelation and Saints
"See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Revelation 21:1-5a
Churches throughout the world who use the common lectionary and transfer All Saints to the first Sunday in November will be reading these words today from Revelation. These passages from Revelation are very important to Archbishop Tutu. To him the book of Revelation is poetry and liturgy. It is not a Rand-McNally map of heaven. It is not a timetable for the end of the world. It is full of encouragement, hope and comfort, especially for the oppressed. When Tutu was fighting against apartheid, he would say, "DON'T GIVE UP! DON'T GET DISCOURAGED! I HAVE READ THE END OF THE BOOK! WE WIN!"
Bishop Desmond Tutu later chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, which heard grievances from those who suffered during the apartheid era. The commission gave voice to horrific stories in the hope of burying past bitterness. This is another excerpt from one of his addresses. "People may commit demonic acts but they are not demons. It is very dangerous to demonize our opponents. Everyone has the potential of becoming a saint."
Today we honor saints we have read about and all the faithful departed whom we deeply loved, some of whom died naturally and some who died violently or in great distress. We eventually remember mostly their goodness, but we must not forget that they all struggled with the challenges of the world just as we do today.
The difference is that they are now right beside us, praying for us and with us throughout all eternity. Sometimes in the quiet of the evening or in the early morning before the rest of the house has awakened or outside in nature when a gentle breeze touches our face, we get a hint of their presence and their peace.