Speak Lord: Of Saints and heaven

West Door Arles This Sunday sees the regular sequence of numbered Sundays interrupted by the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints. The first reading on Sunday will come from the book of the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation.

I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel. After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’ One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’ Apocalypse 7:2-4,9-14

What comes to your mind when you imagine heaven? John sees this community of the faithful, who have sustained their faith (or been sustained by faith in testing circumstances) and who are now free, united in the love and praise of God. We surely get a foretaste of this heaven whenever we are with those who we know to be faithful and whose lives impress by their holiness and love.

  • Who comes to your mind when you consider such people? What do you have in common with them? What do you not?

Bring your thoughts, hopes and fears to God in prayer, thankful for his faithfulness.

The West Door of the church of St Trophime in Arles bears an image of heaven and salvation. I’m not sure that the saints look more cheerful than the sinners! But here they are… West Door Arles Saints   Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

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