today's other readings are Daniel 2 and Daniel 3
The end. This final week of the church year directs our focus on the end, the final end.
In our 1st reading Daniel points out to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon the reality of how kingdoms weaken and come to an end. In his interpretation of the dream of the king, Daniel describes a huge statue with a golden head, silver chest and arms, bronze waist, iron legs and feet of mixed clay and iron. Pat Marrin reminds us that while Daniel flatters Nebuchadnezzar as being the golden head, Daniel also gives him a history lesson about the nature of earthly power, which never lasts as conquest and corruption inevitably bring down the powerful. The phrase “feet of clay” that Daniel uses become part of our lexicon, reminding us that even great empires inevitably come to an end.
In our gospel, St. Luke tells us how Jesus shocks his listeners with His description of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, which would happen 70 AD. For the Jewish people, this was a calamity that shocked them to the core of their very beings, just as so many in North America were terribly shocked by the event of Sept. 11, 2001. For the Jewish people, this seemed like the end had come.
So what does Jesus have to say about this? Do not be afraid, or in our gospel, do not be terrified.
Do not be afraid. That constant message found throughout the gospels. Even as we can be troubled and even frightened by the many challenges that have come our way at this point of human history, we are called not to flee and be overwhelmed by fear, but rather be present to the discomfort, as we heed Jesus’ instruction not to be afraid. Remember, Christ the King has conquered eternal death, and He has already ensured a happy ending.
Today, ask for the faith to trust Him until we reach the end page of our story.