At the centre of the gable end of the church, the witnesses saw a white lamb, standing on an altar. The Lamb appeared alive and was looking towards the other figures in the Vision.
The altar was like a normal church altar, but had no candles or any other adornment. Resting at the back of the altar was a plain cross.
The image of Jesus, our Saviour, as a lamb was pre-figured from the beginnings of salvation history. After the fall of Adam and Eve, their son Abel became a shepherd and offered God the first-born of his flock. God was pleased with this sacrifice (Genesis 4:4).
God did not abandon his people, but made a series of covenants with them, promising to protect and guide them if they obeyed his commandments. After making a covenant with Abraham, God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham set out to obey, but God stayed his hand and substituted a ram to sacrifice in place of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14). This prefigured the infinite mercy of God in offering His own Son to be our redeemer.
When God, through Moses, delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, they were commanded to kill and eat an unblemished male lamb. The lamb’s blood was to be put on the doorposts of their houses, which would save them from the angel of death (Exodus 12:1-14). This great event was re-lived every year thereafter by the People of Israel, and a key part of the celebration was the Passover meal and lamb.
When Jesus began his public ministry John the Baptist recognized Him as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).The delivery of the People of Israel from slavery in Egypt pre-figured the salvation of the human race from the slavery of sin through Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus’ passion and death occurred at Passover time. Jesus the Good Shepherd became the first of the flock, the lamb chosen to be the only acceptable sacrifice to God for atonement for sin.
At the celebration of the Passover Meal with his apostles on Holy Thursday (the Last Supper) Jesus changed bread and wine into his own body and blood and commissioned the apostles to ‘Do this in memory of me’ (Matthew 26:17-29), as the Priests of the new and eternal Covenant in celebration of the Mass, re-presenting the sacrifice of the Cross, and making Jesus really present in the banquet of the Eucharist.
In the Vision of Knock we see Jesus as a lamb on the altar of the Mass, with the cross of salvation, but now alive and risen from the dead. Thanks to Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice we can look forward in hope to the glory of heaven. Scripture images Jesus at the end of time as victorious Lamb in heaven, and the marriage feast of the Lamb is ready. We the faithful, are prepared as a bride wearing the spotless garment of salvation for the eternal union of Christ with his Church. (Revelation 21:9; 22:1-5,17,20-21).
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your plan from all eternity, that through your infinite Justice and Mercy you sent your son Jesus, the Lamb of God, to teach us by word and example, to give his life to save us from sin, and open for us the gates of heaven as sons and daughters of the Father.
We thank you for your plan of marriage and family, and all the blessings that flow from it for husbands & wives, fathers & mothers, for children, grandparents and extended family, for the Church and for the wider society. Please help all families to experience your constant and infinite love whatever comes: ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). Help, encourage and comfort those who are struggling with difficulties, those in situations not fully in harmony with your design for marriage & family, inspire them to always seek and reverence your plan.
For God so loved the world
That he gave his only Son,
That whoever believes in him should not perish,
But should have eternal life.
(Gospel of John 3:16)
Jesus said: I give you a new commandment: love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you too must love one another.
By this love you have for one another,
Everyone will know that you are my disciples.
(Gospel of John 13:34-35)