St. John faced up to the impossible task of describing the happiness of the saints in heaven.

Monday, 11/26/12

Our first reading comes from a vision penned by St. John, Christ’s Beloved Disciple. His vision of heaven had one hundred and forty-four thousand saved-souls assembled before the Lamb of God. They are praising God by playing their harps in perfect unison. I had a friend who loved quoting John Milton’s version of that scene from his Paradise Lost. Milton described heaven as a place where “The Cherubic hosts in thousand choirs, touch their immortal harps of golden wires.”

Burma Shave’s variation on that was less sublime. Its first sign said, AT EACH CROSSING. The second sign said, LOOK EACH WAY. The third sign said, A HARP SOUNDS PRETTY. The last sign said, BUT ITS HARD TO PLAY.

St. John actually experienced a vision of heaven, but what he saw and what he felt went far beyond the capacity of human speech to depict. We can be sure that he was far from satisfied with the scene he created with his words. Still, we should reward his efforts by believing that what he experienced went beyond being breath-taking.

I just Googled Mozart, and I was rewarded with a clip in which an eighteen-member Viennese ensemble of violins, cellos, and bases played his “A Little Night Music.”  If I were to attempt describing what I heard to a person who is deaf from birth I would have a task similar to what John attempted in todays’ first reading.

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