The Supper of the Lamb
Robert P. Imbelli November 22, 2012 - 9:29am
Appropriately, the "lectio continua" for the weekdays of the close of the liturgical year is from the Book of Revelation. The second reading for this Sunday's Eucharist will also come from Revelation.If the reading from Revelation was proclaimed this morning, we heard part of chapter five:
I wept bitterly because there was nobody fit to open the scroll and read it, but one of the elders said to me, There is no need to cry: the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and he will open the scroll and the seven seals of it.Then I saw, standing between the throne with its four animals and the circle of the elders, a Lamb that seemed to have been sacrificed.
Joseph Mangina, in his wonderful commentary on Revelation (Brazos Press), writes:
What John hears is a Lion, what he sees is a Lamb. What he hears is strength, what he sees is weakness. What he hears is a conqueror, what he sees is the quintessential victim -- the Lamb. This Lamb is not just destined for sacrifice, moreover, but has actually been slaughtered. If what John hears is life, what he sees is death. And yet not so, because the Lamb is standing, so that the slaughter is the mark of his victory; he has passed through death and now stands somehow beyond it.
How we interpret the entire Apocalypse depends on how we interpret the scene that now lies before us ... Christ really is and never ceases to be the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is indeed a figure of power, but his power is realized precisely in the self-giving love he displays at the cross ... The Lamb embodies the triumph of life; he is slaughtered, but stands and lives: "I died, and behold I am alive forevermore" (1:18).
How blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!
About the Author
Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.