November 28, 2017
by Thomas Quinn
Creighton University's School of Medicine
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 504

Daniel 2:31-45
Daniel 3:57, 58, 59, 60, 61
Luke 21:5-11

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Daniel had a way with words, wisdom, and very powerful people. When asked to interpret the meaning of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream concerning the destruction of a multi-media statue by an enormous stone, Daniel did not immediately, verbally stone the king.  He, instead, began by saying, “you, O King, are the king of kings.” That beginning, knowing what we know of earthly leaders, most likely got the king’s attention. Daniel continued his explanation by comparing Nebuchadnezzar to the golden head of the dream statue. A first reading of this passage may give the impression that Daniel was an arch-sycophant, but as we read on, he seems to be a realist, and possibly, a futurist. Each element of the statue, whether made of gold, bronze, or literally, feet of clay, would crumble to dust and blow away.  The kingdom that God has made for us “shall never be destroyed…and it will stand forever. God has revealed what shall be in the future , …and its meaning is sure,” Daniel said.

Today’s gospel reading also has a warning about the destruction of a revered object, the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus warns that “no stone will be left upon another that will not be thrown down.” We know that this became a reality when the Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70, and literally threw its stones down.  The things that man builds are fragile; only God endures. 

Jesus reassures those gathered around him that there will be signs that “the time [for the end] has come.” We, unfortunately, have seen the rise and fall of nations, earthquakes, famines, and plagues. We may see signs that “come from the sky,” but Jesus tells us that even these events will not immediately be the end. God in his infinite mercy constantly reminds us of our own fragility, gullibility, and the impermanence of our material world. He does this to give us the incentive and time to react and to prepare for our imperishable, eternal home with him. We should, as the responsorial psalm reminds us, “give glory and eternal praise to him.”  We do not know the day and the time that we will be called to come into God’s presence.        

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