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Waiting for the Grapes of Wrath

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sermon for the third Sunday in Advent

We stand with St John looking at the working out of God’s plan for the Earth. The scene is that of harvest time, but a harvest time unlike any that we’re used to. We see Our Lord Himself, sharp sickle in hand, reap the Earth as if it were grain. Then we see an angel, sharp sickle in hand, reap the Earth as if it were grapes. The grapes are put into the winepress and trodden down, and blood pours out – a lot of blood!

It all sounds like something from a horror film doesn’t it?


Holy Scripture often presents us with confusing or even downright unpleasant images, and they are there for a good reason. God wants to make us think, for in thinking we take in what He is saying more deeply. Also, what He is saying cannot be expressed in simple language. A picture really does paint a thousand words, even if it is an unpleasant picture.

So what do we see?


We see the Sone of Man with a crown on His head. This can only be Our Lord Jesus Christ. He bears a sickle and so it is clear that He is going to reap the harvest. And now we need to think hard, because Our Lord uses a lot of farming imagery in His parables. Does He ever refer to Himself as one who will reap the harvest?

He does indeed refer to God as one who harvests in the parable of the talents. Remember the man with one talent who buries it in the ground because he is afraid of the master. This man says to the Master, “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed.” And this is something that the Master confirms. He does indeed reap where He has not sown and gather where He has not strawed.

We are beginning to understand what St John is seeing in his revelation now, but there is one further question to ask.

Surely God has created everything. He has sown every seed, hasn’t He? What can there be that God will reap that He hasn’t sown?

The answer is simple.


God has not sown evil. That’s what the Devil has sown in us. There, in the Garden of Eden, the Devil sows evil into our very being by tricking us to accept evil in the guise of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. God did not so that seed, but He is certainly going to reap it!

This is why the grapes that are reaped by His assisting angel are the grapes of God’s wrath.

We must never understand that God’s wrath is like the wrath of Man. It’s clear that God’s wrath is directed with pinpoint accuracy at every Evil inflicted on mankind, and this wrath is fierce and terrible. This is why we will all tremble, for while there is Evil within our nature, God’s wrath will be directed at it.

Thus, the fruit of Evil is placed into the winepress and crushed outside the city, and blood comes out – a vast quantity.

But where do we see blood in relation to Our Lord and Evil?

What we are witnessing here is the way that the wrath of God conquers Evil, for this winepress is the Cross, and the blood is the Blood of Christ poured out for the New Covenant, poured out for the whole Church throughout Time. Remember that Our Lord is dragged out of the City of Jerusalem to be crucified. He is crushed and broken, but the glorious fact is that as His body is crushed and broken, He bears on Himself the weight of our sins. All the sins of the world are placed upon His shoulders and die with Him.

With St John, we are standing on the outside of History looking in. We see the events of the Crucifixion unfold from a different viewpoint. Yet, as we leave our worship to go back into our busy lives, we find ourselves waiting for the effects of this reaping of Evil to happen. We still see so much evil, so much horror, unkindness, selfishness, violence against the innocent. And we are sick of it all.

But we see that God is sick of it too.

We wait for the coming of Christ in the Mass by which we receive the Blood shed for us to cleanse us from our sins. We wait for the coming of Christ to make things new. We wait for the coming of Christ so that His light that burns inside of us will become visible in the World. We wait for the wrath of God with fear, trembling, and utter joy. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

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