Today’s first reading presents several contrasting pictures. In the first scene we witness a mighty struggle against evil, symbolized by Babylon, a struggle in which we are still engaged today. In the second scene we see a vision of a joyful victory celebration in heaven, a victory in which we hope to share. By placing the two scenes next to each other for us to observe, Saint John wants us to realize that the battle has really already been won, the war is actually over, and God the Father through his Son has achieved total victory for those who remain faithful to him.
The Book of Revelation proclaimed a message of encouragement to the early Christians in the midst of dreadful persecution, and it proclaims that same hope to us in the midst of our own struggles. Of particular significance to us is the declaration: “Happy are they who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” The wedding feast symbolizes the union of Christ with all the people whom he has won for his Father by means of his suffering and death. It is the ultimate union which is ours only after our own physical death.
The Church has incorporated this declaration into the Communion Rite of the Mass. The priest raises up the Body of Christ for all to see and says: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to his supper.” These words remind us that the Eucharist is a pledge of future glory. The Body and Blood of Christ, our spiritual nourishment, strengthens us on our journey towards eternal life. The Mass is, after all, the most wonderful thing this side of heaven, a foretaste of heaven, a prelude to everlasting happiness. Those who are called to celebrate the Mass are also called to share in the eternal banquet of the Lamb in heaven.
We don’t need to be reminded that the Mass is rich in meaning. Today let us focus the eyes of faith on the fact that the Mass is our greatest source of hope and encouragement on this journey.