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Sacramental Theology in the Revelation of St. John

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

The book of Revelation can be very confusing to read. It can be difficult to interpret because much of it is written in symbolic language that is not always easy to follow. However, John’s prophetic vision is about the relationship of the New Covenant to the Old and it is “consummated by nothing less than the marriage supper of the Lamb of God” (Hahn 5). In order to truly understand the book, it is necessary to consider it in light of Sacramental Theology and the way God communicates His love to us.

People are not purely spiritual creatures. Each person is created as a composite of the spiritual and the material. God, who is love, created the world to communicate His love and manifest his glory. He uses both physical and spiritual means to communicate His love to us. In the Old Covenant, God communicated to his people through a variety of sensible means: rainbows, circumcision, or the blood of bulls. In the New Covenant, God communicates His grace to us by sensible signs that are comprehensible to our limitations.

All of history is a story of God’s love for us. Even when we turned away from Him, God did not abandon us, but continually beckoned us back toward Him. His ultimate act of love was the sacrificial atonement of Christ to restore to us what had been lost. Christ instituted the sacraments as efficacious signs and ordinary means of his grace. The book of Revelation is best understood “from this vision of sacramental love” (Hahn 5).

The Sacrament of marriage unites spouses to each other in a way that is unique among physical experiences. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of love wherein the lover and his beloved are united in a similar way. John writes that we should “rejoice and exult and give [God] the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). Christ offers himself up for the Church, in a like manner to how a spouse gives himself up for his beloved. Marriage demonstrates the destiny that awaits each Christian, our lives are preparation for the marriage feast that awaits us. “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).

Similarly, the Eucharistic feast unites the believer with Christ much like the intimate embrace of husband and wife. In the earthly liturgy, we participate in the heavenly feast that is to come. Jesus as priest offers himself as the victim in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass, giving himself to his Bride the Church (Hahn 5). The activity of the Church is directed toward the Eucharistic liturgy. Each of those who have been made children of God through their Baptism, gather together to take part in this sacrifice (Sacrosanctum Concillium 10). We worship God by uniting ourselves to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the unblemished lamb. We rejoice in Christ’s victory over sin and death.

The book of Revelation describes Christ’s victory over the kingdom of Satan. It is the final end of God’s love for his creation for this sacrifice conquers the evils of sins. He provides us the means to participate in His victory through the Sacraments which he has given to communicate His grace to us. We are united to Him in praise and worship through the Eucharistic feast and the bond of marriage is a foretaste of our union with Christ in the world to come.


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