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ONLY THE KINGDOM OF GOD WILL ENDURE TO THE END

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Dan. 2:31-45 & Lk. 21:5-11

King Nebuchadnezzar has a vision of a huge idol with a head of gold, chest of silver, belly of bronze, legs of iron and feet of clay – and a stone hurtles towards it and smashes the idol to pieces!

Daniel interprets these various materials as different kingdoms, all of which are replaced or brought to an end by God’s kingdom, as represented by the stone. Kingdoms and empires have turned to dust, to be blown away throughout history, while God's Kingdom remains.

This vision teaches us that all idols, indeed, have feet of clay. All human beings have limitations and faults. We should not be surprised that political leaders, cultural leaders and even Church leaders have defects, since all are touched by original sin. We should give our complete trust only to God. Only He is perfect.

This vision or dream is also an argument against the promise of evolutionary progress as though things will always become better. Here, each kingdom is followed by a weaker one as the statue goes from gold to clay. The same can happen in any organization and in the history of societies. The latest is not always the best!

Finally, God's Kingdom is the Rock. What we do for the Lord endures. Our first loyalty should be the Kingdom of God. It will outlive all regimes, all financial empires and all world powers. Its source is God. lts power comes from God. Its future is with God. This Kingdom of God resides in the hearts and lives of the People of God. Together, they form a vast and intricate network of faith, prayer and purpose that runs through time and geography. They and we are, as the Second Vatican Council taught, "the lasting and sure seed of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race."

For the Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem was the centre of religious and cultural life. It contained the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. It was a magnificent building and we are not surprised that the Apostles waxed eloquently about its beauty. But Jesus warns them that the day will arrive when it will be destroyed (as indeed it was, in 70 AD). Yet the end of the Temple will not be the end of religion. Jesus Himself will remain with us, as He does to this day, in the Eucharist. Likewise, no matter what else passes away – our parents, our church, our homes - Christ remains. That belief should fill us with confidence.

Jesus does not directly answer the question about when the Temple will be destroyed. Rather, He tries to get His listeners to focus on what is really important - their faith. Our Lord warns them not to listen to the wrong people. Throughout the course of a normal day, to whom do we listen? The news media´s instant experts? Jesus cautions us that the people we listen to might affect the quality of our lives - and the quality of our eternity. Do we judge with care which voices we should hear?

We witness tsunamis, floods, terrorist attacks, wars, abortion, euthanasia - is the world a better place today than in Jesus´ time? Our Lord was no stranger to bad news. He knew about the tower in Siloam that killed 18 people (Luke 13:4) - and He knew what awaited Him on Good Friday. Yet He always remained hopeful and encouraged the best in people. As His followers, we too must be witnesses to hope. We need to brighten the lives of those around us. More importantly we need to remind others that God will win in the end. "Good, not evil, has the last word," Saint Pope John Paul II said in 2001. "God triumphs over the hostile powers, even when they seem great and invincible.”

Lord Jesus, we know that You will win in the end. If only our hearts would believe that, too! Let our lives at every moment show that kind of optimism.

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