NOVEMBER 23. Ord Time B. Wk 34. Tue. Lk 21 5-11
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.’
The readings in this, the last week of the liturgical year can be viewed as focusing on the end of the world; - the end of Christ’s life; - and also the end of our individual lives when we have to face our creator for judgement.
Christ was clearly talking about the end of time, but a more practical approach for Christians is to be ready for the end of one’s life which we all know is fast approaching. When this time does arrive one thing is clear; - all that is in the world to which we are attracted will be gone!
What flows from this is the obvious need to prepare now for this event, as after death we will be unable to influence our final judgement; - nor will we be able to claim we were not warned about the need to be ready!
Note how the questioner in today’s reading is asking “when will this happen; - and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?” but the question is not answered, indicating the need to be continually ready and prepared. None of us can guarantee our life tomorrow!
The crowd was pointing out the beauty of the temple, “remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings”; - a description of surpassed by the beauty of the world but we should note Christ’s comment; - “all these things you are staring at now will be destroyed!” – implying there will be even greater beauty to follow in the next life!
But then we are issued with a warning; - “take care not to be deceived because many will say ‘I am he’ and ‘the time is at hand” – refuse to believe them” indicating there will be many false prophets whose purpose is to deceive and hide the truth.
And how true this has turned out to be, with many “teachers and prophets” proclaiming ways that are contrary to the teachings of the Son of God; - and how many there are who follow these alternatives, but false ways to true happiness and peace?
Generally, though there is one distinguishing mark that separates the false prophets from the teachings of Christ, and that is the need for self-denial and self-sacrifice; - virtues which are fundamental to the Love of God and Neighbour.
At the heart of Christ’s teaching is the need to care for others, whereas the teaching of the world and the false prophets focuses on the need to care for, and love, ourselves!!
Gospel Acclamation Rv2:10
Be faithful until death, says the Lord,
and I will give you the crown of life.
First reading Daniel 2:31-45
Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream
Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, ‘You have had a vision, O king; this is what you saw: a statue, a great statue of extreme brightness, stood before you, terrible to see. The head of this statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet part iron, part earthenware. While you were gazing, a stone broke away, untouched by any hand, and struck the statue, struck its feet of iron and earthenware and shattered them. And then, iron and earthenware, bronze, silver, gold all broke into small pieces as fine as chaff on the threshing-floor in summer. The wind blew them away, leaving not a trace behind. And the stone that had struck the statue grew into a great mountain, filling the whole earth. This was the dream; now we will explain to the king what it means.
‘You, O king, king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given sovereignty, power, strength and glory – the sons of men, the beasts of the field, the birds of heaven, wherever they live, he has entrusted to your rule, making you king of them all – you are the golden head. And after you another kingdom will rise, not so great as you, and then a third, of bronze, which will rule the whole world. There will be a fourth kingdom, hard as iron, as iron that shatters and crushes all. Like iron that breaks everything to pieces, it will crush and break all the earlier kingdoms. The feet you saw, part earthenware, part iron, are a kingdom which will be split in two, but which will retain something of the strength of iron, just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together. The feet were part iron, part earthenware: the kingdom will be partly strong and partly weak. And just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together, so the two will be mixed together in the seed of man; but they will not hold together any more than iron will blend with earthenware. In the time of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not pass into the hands of another race: it will shatter and absorb all the previous kingdoms, and itself last for ever – just as you saw the stone untouched by hand break from the mountain and shatter iron, bronze, earthenware, silver and gold. The great God has shown the king what is to take place. The dream is true, the interpretation exact.’