Scripture: Lectionary 159. Daniel 12:1-3. Psalm 16:5.8.9-10.11. Hebrews 10:11-12,18. Mark 13:24-32
This Sunday helps us to prepare ourselves for a new liturgical year which begins with the first Sunday in Advent. Our theme looks toward the final victory over distress and death through the coming of Christ at the end of time. We take a positive look at this powerful message speaking about God’s final words to us through the prophet Daniel and through Jesus.
The book of Daniel has been heavily borrowed and favored by the Church in its liturgy. Not only are we introduced by the great archangel Michael, but there is a clear message of the afterlife in our reading for today. We easily recognize some of the symbols and images that are taken up by the last book of the New Testament, the Apocalypse (Revelation). The latter book means an uncovering or unfolding of the events which are to take place in the endtime.
Both Daniel and the Apocalypse are prophetic and extremely symbolic. There is a strong message of hope for the future in these books where those who are righteous will be with God. As for those who are unrighteous there is the justice of God that awaits them. As believers we are not among the unrighteous but are those who believe that God’s living word will have the last say for us and for those who refuse to listen to the loving concern of our loving God.
The thirteenth chapter of Mark is called the “Little Apocalypse.” Here the endtime is described by Jesus in overwhelming images that could lead us to be afraid, but that is not the message we take from the one who is both Lord of the universe (as we will see and celebrate next week as the Feast of Christ the King. Through our hope and expectation Christ will come in glory to snatch us from the jaws of death by means of our own resurrection. He is the first to rise from the dead victorious, but we follow him.
Daniel and the Apocalypse show us that Michael the Archangel is there to protect the People of God before Christ and to continue this through what is described in the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) in chapter twelve. We Catholics used to say after the Eucharist (Mass) the prayer dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel which reassured us we are not to fear death or the power of the Devil. Michael will rescue the woman who gave birth to the Messiah. The symbolism is applied to both the Church and to Mary, Mother of the Church, who labors with her children here on earth (this valley of tears).
The theme of resurrection appears in Daniel in the Old Testament and in the New Testament it is present in most of its writings being the central theme of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. This belief is one of the greatest for us in living through life while experiencing the death of our loved ones as we move on toward the end. It is a great leap of faith that takes us into life beyond the grave and unites us with all who have gone before us with the sign of faith.
This gives humankind a hope for the future that takes us beyond historical time. We need this kind of hope in the midst of the devastating effects of nature upon humans, and even the more threatening events of wars that are constantly emerging. Jesus as the one who is to come at the end of history is more than a historical figure of a Jewish man who was crucified. Jesus is the Victor over all sin, death, and evil. Jesus told us that God is a God of the living and that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob await those who follow them in the way of righteousness and holiness. No living God would create us who desire to live after this life and condemn us to a death that is a frustration of this primordial wish we all have. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.