Friday, November 27, 2009

Heaven And Earth Will Pass Away, But My Words Will Never Pass Away.

Today’s First Reading is taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel (7:2-14):

In the first year that Belshazzar ruled in Babylon, Daniel had a vision. Belshazzar was the last king of Babylon. This occurred long before the events we read about on Wednesday and Thursday: Balthazar’s feast and Daniel in the lion’s den.

In his vision, Daniel saw four immense beasts, each different from the others. The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings. While he watched, the wings were plucked and the beast stood upright like a man, and was able to think like a man. The second animal was like a bear, and in its mouth were three tusks, as if it had been gnawing on meat. It was given the order: “Get up and devour much flesh!” The third animal seemed like a leopard, but on its back were four wings like those of a bird, and it had four heads. It flew around like a bird of prey, seeking something to devour. It was given dominion to rule like a king.

Then Daniel saw the fourth beast, different from the others, terrifying and horrible. It was very powerful, and it had great iron teeth with which it crushed and devoured its prey, and what was left was trampled under its feet. This beast had ten hours, which Daniel was staring at, when suddenly another little horn sprang up, and three of the large horns were torn away to make room for it. This horn had eyes like a man, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly.

As Daniel watched, he saw a court in heaven. Thrones were being set up, and one called “The Ancient of Days” took his place upon the throne. In the Aramaic language “The Ancient of Days” is another name for God, who has always been, is now, and ever shall be. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A surging stream was flowing out from where he sat. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.

The court was seated, and the books were opened. "Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.

As these visions continued through the night, I saw before me one like a son of man, coming upon the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

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Responsorial Psalm
Daniel 3

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

“Mountains and hills, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.”

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

“Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.”

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

“You springs, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.”

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

“Seas and rivers, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.”

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

“You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.”

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

“All you birds of the air, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.”

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

“All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord;
Praise and exalt him above all forever.”

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

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Today’s Gospel is taken from Luke (21:29-33):

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

“Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

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The Old Testament prophets often wrote of strange events in the sky that would occur before God’s judgement upon the people he had created. The earth will become dark because the sun, moon and stars will not give their light (Amos 8:9; Joel 3:15). The sea will be greatly more stormy than usual. There will be something like seismic activity, not under the ground but in the sky.

The Prophet Daniel, as we have seen, wrote that “one like a Son of Man will come in the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13). Jesus said that he would return to the earth in this way. In the Bible, a cloud was often evidence that God was present (as in Exodus 13:21). When Jesus comes “on a cloud’ this describes how he will return in glory.

In this gospel, Jesus speaks about the signs of the change of seasons as a figure of the signs that will announce his coming in glory to judge the living and the dead. Leaves first appear on trees when summer is near. In the same way, the events Jesus describes in this gospel will announce that Jesus is about to return.

Some of the people with whom Jesus spoke would still be alive when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. When that occurred, some Christians believed that it was a sign that Jesus was coming soon to judge the living and the dead. Paul, in First Thessalonians urged the members of that Church community to prepare themselves for the Second Coming, for it was approaching soon. In Second Thessalonians, he admits that his prediction was not a prophecy. The people who were alive when Jesus walked the earth, those who have lived and died over the centuries (now more than two thousand years) since his Ascension into the heavens, those who will be born and die from this day forward, and those who will be living when He comes again have an equal opportunity to be saved.

What Jesus said will always be true. What will happen to the earth and sky will not change Jesus’ words. You and I do not know when the moment will come that we will be called before the Judgment Seat, to give an account of our stewardship. Once again, I close this reflection with a familiar phase: Child of God, live this day as if were the first, the last, the only day of the rest of your life. One of these days, it will be!

2 comments:

Sarah in the tent said...

"My words will never pass away."
For me, this is the most amazing prophecy. Has anyone else in history ever said such words? And even if some overmighty king did, their words have already been forgotten. Julius Caesar wrote copiously for his own aggrandizement, but I don't think even he ever made such a claim. Yet Christ's words are alive now, and even spreading through the universe on radio waves!!!

The various beasts and their kingdoms were and are real and terrifying but, whatever happens to us, we have an Eternal King and His Eternal Word.

Mary333 said...

Like Sarah, I love "My words will never pass away." The strength and power of His Words are forever. Thank you for your post, I didn't get to go to Mass today.