Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Revelation 4,1-11

Then, in my vision, I saw a door open in heaven and heard the same voice speaking to me, the voice like a trumpet, saying, 'Come up here: I will show you what is to take place in the future.'

With that, I fell into ecstasy and I saw a throne standing in heaven, and the One who was sitting on the throne,

and the One sitting there looked like a diamond and a ruby. There was a rainbow encircling the throne, and this looked like an emerald.

Round the throne in a circle were twenty-four thrones, and on them twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white robes with golden crowns on their heads.

Flashes of lightning were coming from the throne, and the sound of peals of thunder, and in front of the throne there were seven flaming lamps burning, the seven Spirits of God.

In front of the throne was a sea as transparent as crystal. In the middle of the throne and around it, were four living creatures all studded with eyes, in front and behind.

The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third living creature had a human face, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was studded with eyes all the way round as well as inside; and day and night they never stopped singing: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty; who was, and is and is to come.'

Every time the living creatures glorified and honoured and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, who lives for ever and ever,

the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship the One who lives for ever and ever, and threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying:

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you made the whole universe; by your will, when it did not exist, it was created.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

With a new vision, John brings us into the central part of his revelation, a true theophany that uses images drawn from the temple and scenes from the First Testament - starting with creation and extending to the God’s manifestation on Sinai - to depict the revelation of God’s plan for history. Even if they are often tormented and dramatic, the lives of individual human beings and of entire peoples are not at the mercy of blind destiny. On the contrary, they are in the strong and merciful hands of God, who is placed at the centre of this vision and at the centre of human experience itself. The throne of God is surrounded by twenty-four elders. They can be seen as the combined representation of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles, as if to indicate the completeness of the people of God in the heavenly Jerusalem. John then sees "around the throne, and on each side of the throne...four living creatures" that together chant a liturgical hymn addressed to the Lord of creation and history (v. 8-11) that opens with the "trisagion," the triple repetition of the word "Holy" that is lifted up to the one seated on the throne and taken from the story of the calling of Isaiah (6:3). This heavenly liturgy reflects the earthly liturgy that communities of believers celebrate every Sunday in anticipation of the Sunday on which the sun with never set, when we will stand face to face with God. Because of the images with which they are represented, the four living creatures seem to recall the signs of the Zodiac, but, beginning with Irenaeus from Lyon, the tradition of the Church has made them the symbols of the four evangelists. In effect, we can compare the "eyes" that fill them "all around and inside" to the light of the Gospel that illuminates our hearts so we can understand the mystery of God’s love. With our eyes illuminated by the four gospels we can approach the throne of heaven and join in the song of all those who want to "see" the face of God.