November 27, 2015
by Tom Shanahan, S.J.
Creighton University's Relations and Theology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 507

Daniel 7:2-14
Daniel 3:75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81
Luke 21:29-33

Praying Ordinary Time


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We have been reading in our Liturgy in the later weeks of the liturgical year from “Apocalyptic” writings.  Today’s readings are an example  in the Hebrew Bible Book of Daniel as well as the words of Jesus from Luke’s gospel.  The word itself means uncovering what can’t be known through human intelligence; God alone discloses to us the wonders of his love; God is a God who rescues us from the surrounding evil in our world and in us.

There’s a difficulty for us understanding apocalyptic literature – it is, in most cases, nearly impossible to our wrap our mind’s around because we easily get lost in the intricacies of the poetic and mystical expressions that make up apocalyptic passages.

Apocalyptic readings such as in today’s are prevalent in the last couple weeks of the Liturgical Year and also in the first couple of weeks in the upcoming Advent season.  What is becoming revealed (uncovered by God’s grace/goodness) to us as we look forward to our Advent?  What do we need to look for as we contemplate these messages of “uncovering” in our prayers and thoughts?

We all have seen the comic strip depiction of the ascetic man dressed in flowing robes and holding a sign that says, “The End Is Near”.  For full disclosure, these scare me and  I think it is meant to be scary or at least to get me to think not about the passing things of my life, but to consider the final outcome of life – and none of us wants to do that!

Recently I heard of another of these humorous frames that had the usual ascetic-looking fellow holding a sign that proclaimed: “The End is NOT near -- So Figure out how to live in an imperfect world!” There’s great wisdom in that because it encourages us to look outside of ourselves and our fears and limitations.

We KNOW how to live in an imperfect world.  God has already “uncovered” God’s self in the very person of Jesus, God’s son and our brother.  Jesus has shown throughout the course of his whole life and especially his last days of dying and rising from the dead.  He brings the Kingdom of God to our very imperfect world and invites us to join with him in living lives that help to illuminate the Kingdom in our troublesome days.

And when we look at our world we can legitimately get scared by all the violence, anger, wars and rumors of war that threaten us daily – the most recent being the wanton mid-November  murders in France.

Jesus has already shown us vividly how to respond: love God and our neighbor; live out the reality of the Beatitudes; trust in the goodness of God; open ourselves to the poor and those who call out the Christ life that is within us.

That’s why I like better the message of the second version of the “world’s end” signs held up by the wandering ascetics.  It invites me to do something in my life that counters the bad news I see daily on TV and listen to on the radio.  We all need to be encouraged that our attempts to bring love into a loveless world are themselves gifts of God.

The “end is near” then becomes a challenge and a blessing from a loving God.  Our simple acts of faith, hope and love have effects that go way beyond the present moments into a future and a hope that God has planned for us.  We face a world that wants to imprison us, but the Kingdom beckons us into a future of promise and hope.  Lord, help us all to live into that future!

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