The Seven counsels of John
The main door into the Book of Revelation
- Read and Listen as a community
- Do not add or subtract anything
- Use your intelligence
- Be thirsty for truth and for life
John says: "Let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free" (22:17). This means that the person who reads the Book of Revelation must not allow himself/herself to be led by human interests, but search only for that truth which helps one to live better. Then can be found the "water of life" of which John speaks. According to Jesus this love for the truth is found among the little ones. They understand better (Mt. 11:25-26).
- Be open to the work of the Holy Spirit
Revelation is not any ordinary book. It is a prophecy that comes from the Holy Spirit (22:6, 10; 1:3). Hence the community must submissively listen to9 what the Spirit wants to tell them: "Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches" (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). The human intellect alone is not enough to understand the Word of God. The Spirit is a gift from God to which we can reach out only through prayer (Lk. 11:13).
- Let the message lead to prayer
John says: "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come!' Let anyone who hears answer, 'Come'!" (22:17). The Bride is the Church, the community. Animated by the Spirit, it prays. The community members must do the same. In the meassure in which they hear and understand the message of Revelation, they must express it in their prayer. That is, they must pray that Jesus may accomplish in their lives, the message they have heard. Without his help, they can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).
- Put into practice the Word you have heard
It is not enough to hear. It is not enough to pray. We must put the Word into practice. John says: "Blessed are those who keep the prophetic message of this book" (22:7). And again: "Blessed is anyone who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear them, if they treasure the content" (1:3). God's message cannot remain secret in the depths of the conscious - it must spread through the world (22:10). It is when the communities put it into practice that the messaage spreads out.
A last recommendation. John wrote Revelation in the form of a letter and sent it to seven small communities persecuted by the Roman Empire (1:4, 9, 11). Isn't the best way to understand the message of a letter to be in the house of the addressee at the very moment when he or she receives and reads it? For only then can one sense the friendship which binds the writer and the person to whom he has written, and understand better the comfort that the letter gives.
This is exactly what John is asking. He wants the letter to be read in community (1:3). His seven counsels are valid only if you read the letter of Revelation in the home of the persecuted communities. That is, if you reach out to the poor and the oppressed of our communities today and if you understand and defend the cause of those men and women who are persecuted for the sake of justice. This is the best means of gaining entrance into Revelation. Whoever takes a stand by the side of the oppressors and persecutors of the people cannot understand anything of the message which John has left us for today.