The Kingdom Is Near
Friday of Week 34 in Ordinary Time - Cycle I
Dan. 7:2-14 & Lk. 21:29-33
Four beasts emerge from the sea in the vision of Daniel in today's first reading. The lion, bear and leopard represent empires that dominated Israel; the fourth beast was an empire yet to come. The beasts rule for a while and then are destroyed.
Finally one like a son of man, not a kingdom but a person, comes not from the sea but out of Heaven. He is given “dominion, glory and kingship.” Surely this has to be a reference to Jesus? He quoted these words when He spoke to the Sanhedrin at His trial (Mk. 14:62). This vision portrays the coming and going of world empires, some of which we have witnessed in our own time. But the final judgement over all these nations is given to the Son of Man.
What are to make of today’s Gospel reading? We must understand it in the context of the whole of Saint Luke's Chapter 21 in which Jesus is responding to the disciples’ anxious plea, as to when the destruction of the Temple and the end of the world will come. I think Jesus is not concerned about the destruction of the Temple nor the end of the world - rather He wants them to realise the Kingdom of God within them now.
He tells them some signs that will precede the imminent fall of Jerusalem as well as the coming of the Son of Man “on the clouds.” These events will all be very apparent, just as we know about the coming of summer which we see in the budding of the trees. What Jesus is telling us is, 'Be focused on the present; do not be obsessed with figuring out when the Son of Man will come. Focus on living and knowing the Kingdom of God now.”
How easily we are distracted with all that happens around us, yet how difficult it is to be aware of the Kingdom and its demands in our hearts and our relations with others in our lives! What efforts do I make to discover and know the present demands of His Kingdom in my life?
When He says “Before this generation has passed all will have taken place” these words are surely a reference to the destruction of the Temple? This is very fearful. But when He adds “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away,” this is another way of saying, 'Don’t be afraid! Believe in Me, trust in Me and all will be well.'
Lord Jesus, give us a greater faith and confidence that every cross and burden, no matter how great or small, is a means of loving and believing in You. We want to build Your Kingdom with You. Keep us focused on the opportunities and demands of the present moment.