In today’s First Reading John is given a glimpse of what Heaven will be like in the future. The imagery may be a little strange and disconcerting if you try to picture it literally; John is trying to express symbolically what it will be like and who will be there. The four living creatures symbolize the presence of all creation, and the eyes covering them symbolize God’s knowledge and concern for them. The lion, calf, man and eagle represent what is what is noblest, strongest, wisest, and swiftest in creation. The twenty-four elder represent the Twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel, and the seven spirits of God represent seven angels who stand in God’s presence (two of which we know as Gabriel and Raphael). Lastly, the thunder and lightning are typically signs of God’s appearance and activity.
This vision of Heaven may not entirely quad with our own: are we just going to be falling on our faces forever telling the Lord how great he is? The question should be, what would give us reason to do so? If you remember fondly your high school graduation you remember it like a moment of accomplishment in your life where a limitless future, forged by your own hand, seemed before you. Hopefully you also remembered someone who helped you make it through high school: a parent, a teacher, or a friend. It’s a moment of joy and a moment of gratitude. John’s vision and ours should be exactly that: not just joy at having finished something and having a bright future ahead of us, but gratitude toward those who make it possible, because we never get there alone.
We haven’t “graduated” life yet, but a bright future lies in store for us if we work hard for it and let Our Lord help us achieve it.