In my vision, I, John, heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the living creatures and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, loudly chanting: Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing. Then I heard all the living things in creation – everything that lives in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, crying: To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever. And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen’; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.
This passage from Revelation allows us to immerse ourselves in heavenly reality and to contemplate the position of the Lamb of God there. He is worthy of worship! When we can enjoy his grace forever and unhindered, living in communion with God in heaven, we will be part of that multitude that renders to the Lamb of God all the honour due to him.
But this reading is not only to present us with future glory; it is also to permeate our earthly life. Indeed, in every Holy Mass and in the tabernacles of the churches, the Lord is present as the Lamb of God, before whom we bow our knees.
When we listen to this passage from the Apocalypse, which shows us the heavenly reality, we have to ask ourselves whether this loving reverence, this surrender of honour to God that is described here, can still be perceived in our temples… When, more than forty years ago, I received the grace to recognise in the Catholic Church the true Church of Christ, one of the reasons that moved me to enter it was the holy reverence that I could still experience in the temples of God at that time; a reverence that allowed me to get a glimpse of heaven. It was a mystery that attracted me! When I saw all the faithful kneeling reverently before the presence of God during the consecration at Holy Mass, I was filled with the desire to be part of this adoration, to belong to this multitude that so visibly gave glory to God.
So it is evident that reverent worship, bowing down before the Lamb of God, is not only the proper attitude towards God, which corresponds to the dignity of our deepest vocation, but also has an apostolic dimension for those people who are in search of God. This certainly does not count only for my personal conversion story!
From this perspective, we should dare to ask this question: Do our churches and liturgies still reflect something of what this reading describes for us regarding the worship of the Lamb? If the answer is no, or if this reverent attitude is increasingly being lost, the Church will progressively lose its vertical dimension. And this would be a priceless loss, it would be to move to a primarily horizontal dimension, as is unfortunately happening more and more today.
If we internalise today’s reading, we will understand the incomparable message of the Christian faith: Everything is focused on the Lamb of God! Everyone and everything is called to join in the worship of the Lamb! No religious leader – no Buddha, no Krishna, no Mohammed; no guru or teacher – can be worshipped. They are all human beings and partake of creaturely limitation. All religions and belief systems, even if some rays of the true light can be recognised in them, are incomplete and contain errors. Also the Jews, our “elder brothers”, need to be enlightened to recognise and worship their Messiah, the Lamb of God. When will this happen? Only God knows!
Certainly we will be called to account for what we have done with the great treasure entrusted to us in authentic doctrine and in the praxis derived from it. And it is that we receive the water of life that flows from the “throne of the Lamb” (cf. May the Lord preserve us from being careless with this supreme good and from squandering it! The Catholic Church is not simply one among many religions, nor is she on the same level with them! Such a thought would be absurd for the simple fact that in Her – in the Church – the worship of the Lamb of God takes place, which many people have yet to know. This in no way means that we Catholics are better than others. On the contrary, we have been entrusted with an enormous treasure: the true religion, the true faith… It would be false humility to think that one would be putting oneself above other religions by being convinced of this truth. True humility always follows truth. And truth is not a possession; it is a gift and a mission from God, to which one must submit and which one must serve. It would be a lack of love and humility to withhold from people the treasure that God has entrusted to us, ultimately denying the Lord Himself.
The heavenly worship of the Lamb of God invites us to consciously join it and, if possible, to lead others there as well. This is a command of the Lord, which no one can change and which we should fulfil with love!