Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Revelation 14:1-3.4b-5; Luke 21:1-4)
As the priest holds up the consecrated host with the chalice before Holy Communion, he makes a disquieting statement. “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb,” he says. His words indicate much more precisely than the old translation what is about to take place. The people will partake of the Lamb of God. Of course, they do not bite into corporal tissue; rather they eat the bread and drink the wine that have been transubstantiated into the body and blood of Jesus. The imagery of the Lamb pervades the first reading from the Book of Revelation today.
The passage consistently reads “Lamb” but clearly refers to Jesus. Rather than picture a giant sheep, the reader should see Christ designated by a metaphor with theological significance. The hundred and forty-four thousand who follow him are those who testified with their lives to the Lamb’s divinity. Their positions can hardly be envied as they had to suffer martyrdom to be in such close company with the Lamb.
What are we to make of it all? At the year’s end we are reminded of the price of our salvation. Not only did Jesus have to die to defeat the Evil One, but many others gave their lives so that we might know the Lord. These realizations fill us with the kind of gratitude that makes us more willing to share of ourselves for the salvation of others.