A further intervention of the speaker then refers to the assembly, held by Christ’s love, the commitment to accept his presence in its own life. He says: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” (1:7a). After being lifted up to heaven on “a cloud”, the symbol of transcendence (cf. Acts 1:9), Jesus Christ will return, just as he was taken up into heaven (cf. Acts 1:11b). Then all the peoples will recognize him and, as St John predicts in the fourth Gospel, “they shall look on him whom they have pierced” (19:37). They will remember their sins, the cause of his crucifixion and, like those who witnessed it directly on Calvary, will beat their breasts (cf. Lk 23:48), asking him to forgive them so as to follow him in life and thus to prepare full communion with him after his final Coming. The assembly reflects on this message and says: “Even so. Amen” (Rev 1:7b). The assembly’s “even so” expresses its full acquiescence with of all that has been said to them and they ask that it may truly become reality. It is the prayer of the assembly which meditates on the love of God in its supreme manifestation on the Cross and asks to live consistently as disciples of Christ. And there is God’s answer: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is, who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (1:8). God, who reveals himself as the beginning and the end of history, accepts the assembly’s request and takes it to heart. He was, is and will be present and active in his love in the future, as he was in the past, until the final destination is reached. This is God’s promise. And here we find another important element: constant prayer reawakens within us the sense of the Lord’s presence in our life and in history. His is a presence that sustains us, guides us and gives us great hope, even amidst the darkness of certain human events; furthermore, every prayer, even prayer in the most radical solitude, is never isolation of oneself and is never sterile: rather, it is the life blood of an ever more committed and consistent Christian life.
The second stage in the assembly’s prayer (1:9-22) examines in greater depth the relationship with Jesus Christ: the Lord makes himself seen, he speaks, acts, and the community, ever closer to him, listens, reacts and understands. In the message presented by the speaker St John recounts his personal experience of an encounter with Christ: he was on the Island of Patmos, on account of the “word of God and of the testimony of Jesus” (1:9), and it was the “Lord’s day” (1:10a), Sunday, on which the Resurrection is celebrated. And St John was “in the Spirit” (1:10a). The Holy Spirit permeated him and renewed him, expanding his ability to receive Jesus who asks him to write. The prayer of the assembly which is listening, gradually takes on a contemplative attitude, punctuated by the verb “to see”, “to look”. that is, it contemplates what the speaker suggests, interiorizing it and making it its own.
John hears “a loud voice like a trumpet” (1:10b). The voice orders him to send a message “to the seven churches” (1:11), which are located in Asia Minor and, through them, to all the Churches of all times, together with their Pastors. The words “voice… like a trumpet”, taken from the Book of Exodus (cf. 20:18), recall God’s self-manifestation to Moses on Mount Sinai and indicate the voice of God who speaks from his heaven, from his transcendence. Here the voice is attributed to the Risen Jesus Christ, who speaks to the assembly in prayer from the glory of the Father, with the voice of God. Turning “to see the voice” (1:12), John sees seven golden lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man” (1:12-13), a term particularly dear to John which means Jesus himself. The golden lampstands, with their candles lit, mean the Church of every time, in an attitude of prayer in the Liturgy: the Risen Jesus, the “Son of man” is among them and, clad in the vestments of the high priest of the Old Testament, carries out the priestly role of mediator with the Father. A dazzling manifestation of the Risen Christ, with characteristics proper to God — that recur in the Old Testament — follows in John’s symbolic message.
He describes “hair white as white wool, white as snow” (1:14), a symbol of God’s eternity (cf. Dan 7:14) and of the Resurrection. Fire is a second symbol which, in the Old Testament, often refers to God, to indicate two of his properties. The first of these is the jealous intensity of his love which motivates his Covenant with man (cf. Deut 4:24). And it is this same burning intensity of love that is perceived in the gaze of the Risen Jesus: “his eyes were like a flame of fire” (Rev 1:14a). The second property is the uncontainable capacity for overcoming evil, like a “devouring fire” (Deut 9:3). Likewise Jesus’ “feet”, as he walked on to face and destroy evil, are compared to “burnished bronze” (Rev 1:15). Then Jesus Christ’s voice, “like the sound of many waters” (1:15c), has the impressive roar of “the glory of the God of Israel” moving towards Jerusalem, of whom the Prophet Ezekiel speaks (cf. 43:2). Three other symbolic elements follow. They show all that the Risen Jesus is doing for his Church: he holds her firmly in his right hand — an extremely important image: Jesus holds the Church in his hand — he speaks to her with the penetrating force of a sharp sword and shows her the splendour of his divinity: “His face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Rev 1:16). John is so struck by this wondrous experience of the Risen One that he faints and falls as though dead.