today's other readings are Psalm 119 and Lk. 19: 45-48
During the masses of these last two weeks of the Liturgical Year, we read passages from the Book of Revelation, that wonderfully mystical and symbolic book of visions of the End Times that St. John the Evangelist was blessed with, and thankfully shared with all believers.
In today's passage, John is invited by an angel to eat a scroll, which is the Word of God, the sacred scriptures. He is told that when he does so he will find it tastes as sweet as honey in the mouth, but bitter in the stomach.
The image of the sweetness of the Word of God is then picked up in our responsorial psalm today, #119. The Word of God can be wonderfully sweet and soothing and gentle for our minds and hearts. Passages like, "Come to me, all you who labour and are weary, for I will get you rest" (Mt. 11:28) is a classic example of this. How we treasure such soothing passages and images, and how we enjoy pondering and praying with them.
But then comes the not so nice part - that it will be bitter in our stomachs. This idea is exemplified when we come across passages that are not all soothing - but are in fact bluntly challenging and even chastising.
What is happening here? Well, the truth is be told, are we are being confronted with it. And one thing about the truth - it can be so blunt and make one so uncomfortable. It challenges individuals and communities to do so serious soul searching and to change one's ways. It can lead us to those "Come to Jesus moments". Examples of the truth being spoken is seen in the ministry of the Prophets of the Old Testament, culminating in the message of John the Baptist. The ultimate truth was truth was spoken by Jesus, as witnessed in today's gospel.
Sometimes we need to be soothed - sometimes we need to be challenged. May we be open both to the sweetness and the truth of the Word of God.