Today’s reading, for example, shows 144,000 people in heaven. That is not an occupancy limit and the number has symbolic elements: indicating the completeness of the People of God. Indeed, elsewhere in this book a countless multitude is shown to be in heaven.
Moreover, these 144,000 are described as having special qualities which not all of us share. For one thing, it cannot be said of all of us literally that “On their lips no deceit has been found”. The 144,000 are also described as virgins (in a verse fragment that the Lectionary unfortunately omits). Some commentators say this is really means idolatry-free, but while this argument may not be wholly without foundation, it may inappropriately diminish the great spiritual value of virginity.
All of us are special in God’s eyes, each in different ways. This chapter from the book of Revelation celebrates some very special people in heaven: people with whom we too may rejoice in the eternity of heaven by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ .