Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dn 7:15-27; Dn 3:82-87; Lk 21:34-36
“Servants of the LORD, bless the LORD.”

Your servant Lord, your servant am I; you have loosed my bonds! These words from Psalm 116 help us appreciate the attitude of those who bless the LORD in Daniel three. They are so amazed at the mercy and faithfulness of the LORD who keeps them safe and alive in the white-hot furnace. They cannot praise and exalt him enough. Perhaps we too are amazed at the mercy and faithfulness of the LORD in our own lives. How manifest is his patience and how clear is his favor to us who sin and sin again, oftentimes in the same patterns of self-destruction and self-loathing. Sometimes it’s beyond amazement that the LORD would even recognize among the sons of men, or in the New Israel, or among his priesthood, or among the just, or least of all among the holy men of humble heart. Yet, this is the only way the LORD treats sinners, because he is the friend of sinners. Indeed, he loves us just as we are but he loves us too much to leave us just as we are. His call and his grace are irrevocable. Give glory and eternal praise to the One who first loved us so that we might come to know how to love others and ourselves. The power of this love is revealed in the faithfulness of the LORD who enables his beloved servants to survive the great tribulation and overwhelming pain ahead of those who wait for the victory of the LORD. These are the ones seen in Daniel’s vision. The Lord Jesus also catches a glimpse of the vigilant ones who will have the strength to stand before the Son of Man, at his coming. Perhaps, we are among them; those who will not be taken by surprise.

Even for Daniel, a man of dreams, accustomed to seeing things beyond his wildest imagination finds himself anguished and terrified by the visions of his mind. He even takes counsel from one, who with him witnesses what will happen in the times to come. Great beasts symbolize the ravenous kingdoms of the future, but these do not prevent the arrival of the Kingdom of God that the holy ones of the Most High shall inherit. Just when his vision was adjusting Daniel saw something even more horrific. The arrogance of the fourth beast was beyond all others and it raged war and seemed victorious over the holy ones until the arrival of the Ancient One. Struggle and suffering are a part of our lot right up until the end. There is no escape for anyone who follows the Lamb wherever he may lead. The holy ones of God in this world can only wait in patience and in confidence. Then as Daniel explains the LORD is victorious when his court is convened and all power is taken away from the beast and his minions. They are finally and absolutely destroyed. Daniel continues with this good news, “Then the kingship and dominion and majesty of all the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High, Whose Kingdom shall be everlasting: all dominions shall serve and obey him.” With all the prophets of gloom and doom around us, it is good for us to hear that the victory will be won; no matter how far away that final outcome seems to us.

The only way that the disciples will be caught by surprise like a trap is that they have not been vigilant. All who live on the face of the earth tend to become drowsy when engaged in partying and boozing. They try to escape from all the anxiety in life by escaping through relationships of addiction to people or to chemicals. It works, but only for a little while. Sooner or later all the struggle and suffering will reappear and we will not be any closer to a solution or a healing. Escape is our enemy. Self-justification is our worst enemy. The only friend we have is the cross. In the cross of Christ we come to know intimacy that make us truly vigilant. Praying is no longer a struggle; it is our only delight. We no longer suffer nightmares about the tribulations ahead. Rather, we dream of standing before the Son of Man with utter confidence and total trust. What a vision with which to end the liturgical year. New dreams abound every Advent as we hear again the visions of Isaiah and all those who waited for the coming of the One who has come and is coming to us today even as we await his final coming on the day of victory.
Only a disciple’s heart waits for the day. Only a faithful heart will keep praying to have the needed strength for all that is to come. We know that the dark night of the spirit will test us as we have never before been tested. Indeed, we will begin to doubt even our most fiercely held convictions simply because we feel nothing, and all is darkness. At just such moments the evil one is lurking in the shadows with the foul breath of the final temptation to give up and cease hoping for the coming of the Son of Man. It is at this time of great trial that we come to know that our only friend is darkness, and our only hope is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, the Cross is our only friend.



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