Dn 7:2-14; Daniel 3:75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81; Lk 21:29-33
The chosen and favored Israelite exiles, Daniel and his companions are models of faith for all of us. They stood in the midst of fiery opposition and summoned the whole creation to give glory and eternal praise to the LORD God Almighty. They did not hesitate to invite the complex and the simple creatures of the world to adore their Creator, blessed be His Name. The mountains and hills are not to be adored, but they are to exalt their maker. All the plants upon the face of the earth are also given a voice to bless the LORD who brought them out of the darkness of the ground. Even the springs, rivers, and seas have a voice to bless and exalt the source of their blessings to all that live. Those creatures who live in the seas, the dolphins and all water creatures are not to be ignored; they too can’t hold back their praise and worship. The winged creatures and all animals, wild and tame, now have a voice to shout in exaltation. These wise beyond their age and faith filled men are given sight to behold the wonder and beauty of all creation in the ways in which everything comes from the hands of the Creator and is given to men and women to reveal His Love and tender care for all His Children—potential and actual. Daniel has another vision during the night, and his dream gives us hope in the midst of our fears in facing the future. The Lord Jesus points to the fig tree to remind us that fruitfulness is not in our control, but he expects us to bear a fruit that will last unto the coming of the Kingdom—here in our Mass and forever in Heaven.
Each one of the beasts that Daniel saw in the night gives us a vision of the future kingdoms that will dominate history for a while. However, these worldly powers are not to threaten those in whom the Kingdom dwells and those who await the coming of the Lord. The lion with an ability to fly is transformed into a thinking man. He is no longer too dangerous. The bear with three great tusks was commanded to “devour much,” yet he is replaced by a leopard with even more flying power—four wings—and the thinking power of four heads. With its extraordinary strength and its iron teeth and ten horns, yet these horrors were replace again by another loud horn with human eyes and voice that speaks with arrogance. All this natural and supernatural creatures all seem powerless and non-threatening when the thrones appear and the Ancient One sits in his cosmic splendor with snow bright robes and hair white as wool. The LORD of heaven and earth in his permissive will allowed these monsters to dominate world history, but ultimately the One like a son of man comes on the clouds of heaven and from the hands of the Ancient One comes dominion, glory, and kingship. No earthly power no political stronghold has any sway over the LORD and His Son. Like Daniel and his friends and all those in exile on the earth, we must endure, and nothing more. His power conquers and his love changes everything as we know it. We have nothing to fear from any administration or any foreign power. All nations and every people are summoned to the True King and His Kingdom.
Earlier in the Gospel of Saint Luke the Lord Jesus encountered a fig tree. He came upon this fig tree when he was hungry, and although it was not the season for figs, he cursed the tree for being barren. This action parable has the same message as today’s parable about the fig tree. We must always bear fruit, in season and out of season. We are that temple and city that has the living waters running through and on the banks of this river there are trees whose leaves are always green and who bear fruit twelve months of the year. In today’s gospel parable the Lord Jesus speaks to his disciples back then and his disciples today. The Lord Jesus wants us to learn from the things we see happening. He wants us to know that the Kingdom of God is near. Indeed, our generation will not pass away until all these signs have taken place. We are to have this precise urgency about the coming of the Lord of Glory. The divine gardener has come and found the fig tree barren; he promises the owner of the garden that he will dig around and fertilize the soil so that it may bear fruit. The Lord Jesus provides all we need to satisfy those who seek fruit on our branches. We know full well that heaven and earth as we know them will pass away, but the words of the Lord Jesus will not pass away. Indeed, we will hear his voice clearly and powerfully, “Come here!” or “Out of my sight!”