In the first reading today, John describes the apocalyptic fall of the great city of Babylon. While there’s debate among Scripture scholars over whether John’s vision of Babylon represents Rome or Jerusalem, for my purposes here I want to focus on Babylon being identified as “the great harlot.” The harlot in Biblical imagery is the unfaithful one, the adulterer, the idolater. Harlotry, then, is the love of earthly goods to the detriment of love of God and neighbor.
In Revelation, the harlot is juxtaposed with the Bride of the Lamb. There at the end of this reading, when heaven is celebrating the destruction of Babylon, John says, “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’” The Bride of the Lamb, the Bride of Christ, is the Church.
Next to Babylon’s unfaithfulness stands the Church’s faithfulness to Christ. “[The Church’s] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. and holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom” (Catechism 773). This is a reality worth pausing on. The Catechism says….