Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
They sing a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth."
Sing a new song to the Lord,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in its Maker,
let Zion's sons exult in their king. (R./)
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people.
He crowns the poor with salvation. (R./)
Let the faithful rejoice in their glory,
shout for joy and take their rest.
Let the praise of God be on their lips.
this honour is for all his faithful. (R./)
As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God."
John, caught up in ecstasy on his rocky prison-island of Patmos, felt sad that no one could open the scroll with the seven seals, and at the bloody appearance of Jesus, bearing the wounds of his passion. Throughout the Book of Revelation Jesus is the "Lamb that was killed," but he is also the triumphant one who leads his sheep to eternal life. He is the holy one, worthy to open the scroll.. "for you were killed, and by your blood you purchased for God people of every race and tongue.. You made of them a kingdom, and priests to serve our God." John tells the persecuted Christians of his day that they are being tested by fire, just as was their leader and saviour, who triumphed over death itself.
How does he meand that they (and we) were purchased? Not in the crass sense of a price paid to God, but because Jesus united himself so intimately with human flesh and blood that he became totally immersed in us—and we in him. His love and obedience, his death and resurrection became our family treasure, our inheritance. All God's children were forgiven in him, for the Father saw us as intimately bonded with our elder brother, Jesus.
Only the Lamb who was killed and who has triumphed over the power of death can open the scroll with the seven seals. Jesus has experienced to the fullest extent the trials and joys, the failures and triumphs of human existence. He alone knows our inner core, and can direct our development and lead us into the vision of heavenly joy. Through him, we all become "priests to serve our God," who turn each human experience into one of worship in God's presence.
Luke presents Jesus in a very emotional state in today's gospel, weeping because the city of Jerusalem did not receive him, and did not recognize that in Jesus God was visiting them. The city will now have to live with the consequences of rejecting Jesus. The tears of Jesus are the tears of a love that has been rejected. Jesus came to reveal and make present God's hospitable love for all, but many rejected God's messenger of good news. There is a sense in which Jesus, and God who sent him, was helpless before such rejection. All Jesus can do is weep at human intransigence. Jesus cannot force himself on people; when rejected, he can only move on. He has come to seek and to save the lost, but the lost, and that includes us all, have to be open and responsive to his searching love. He walks with us and wants to enter into communion with us, but every so often we need to say to him, in the words of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, 'Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.'