November 28, 2019
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 506

Daniel 6:12-28
Daniel 3:68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74
Luke 21:20-28

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But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.
Luke 21:28

In this final week of Ordinary Time we are experiencing sober readings, which in reality are full of hope. All the readings of this period are like a "pep rally," encouraging us - and all who might be struggling - to have hope. The outcome, the promise of our God, will turn out wonderfully.

The story of Daniel in the Lion's dean is a great children's story but it is quite good for adults, too. The King likes Daniel, and wants to protect him, even though the King's servants are out to get Daniel - because he enjoys the King's favor. The story tells how the King is forced to throw Daniel to the lions. The heart of the story is that Daniel is unharmed, and the King is overwhelmed that

The God of Daniel is to be reverenced and feared:
"For he is the living God, enduring forever;
his Kingdom shall not be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be without end.
He is a deliverer and savior,
working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth,
and he delivered Daniel from the lions' power.

We who have found ourselves in a lion's dean of some sort, at one time or another, can cheer along with the King about our God's fidelity to us. We might have sought miracles and were disappointed, but our God delivers us from so much - from fear, from anxiety, from a lack of courage, from a feeling of being alone. When we experience a peace that only our God can give, we can truly feel freed from a lion's den.

Jesus is preaching in the temple and warning of the temple's distruction - just as it happened less than 40 years later in the year 70. For Jesus, the interpretation of the punishment going on with that destruction is related to the rejection of his own people to his coming. IT is as though the temple falls apart under the Roman invasion, as much from the lack of faith of the people as from the force of the invading Roman army. But, Jesus seems to address his followers with words of hope and encouragement:

And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
Luke 21:27-28

As we wrap up this year of Ordinary Time and are on the doorstep of Advent, we can feel the support of these promises. The encouraging words of Isaiah are about to greet us and console us. We can begin to pray, "Come, Lord, Jesus" and know what we are asking for. We can feel our hunger. We can taste or discouragment and fear. We can feel tired of the parts of our hearts which are inconsistent and crabby, judgement will nearly everyone. We can ask him to come to us and we can already anticipate the hope within us. We need comfort. We need to know our God is greater than all the darkness around us, or the darkness we choose. "Come and save me!" can begin to be our cry in these days ahead. And, we can trust that the God who made us is ready to help us be whole, is ready to heal and restore us, is ready to come and renew us. Confidence leads to deeper longing, and growing trust opens our hearts to receive the gifts our God longs to give us.

Let us bless the Lord. "Praise him and exhult him forever!"

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