For the Scriptures and reflection for Thanksgiving Day, click HERE.
Thursday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Daniel 6:12-28 + Luke 21:20-28
November 28, 2019
Some men rushed into the upper chamber of Daniel’s home and found him praying….
Jesus issues a sharp challenge to you today. His words might even be described as frightening. Yet Jesus is not preaching fire and brimstone. He’s not preaching, at least directly, about sin and damnation. He is preaching, though, about the worldly desolation of Jerusalem, and signs above and upon earth that will cause people to “die in fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world”.
Today’s First Reading from this last week of the Church year comes from the Book of the Prophet Daniel. It is the famous story of “Daniel and the lions’ den”. While the miracle of Daniel’s survival stands out as the dramatic hinge of the passage, less noticeable details deserve our attention, also. For example, what was it that provoked the king’s anger at Daniel? It was Daniel’s prayers of petition. Daniel violated the decree that all were to petition no one—neither god nor man—except the king. Daniel’s wisdom lay in trusting the Lord alone, or rather, knowing that petitions to anyone but the Lord would be of little meaning.
Many people find the idea of the end of the world very frightening, especially when it’s dramatized in literature or film. The drama is enhanced by the physical destruction of worldly monuments and temples. But physical destruction, no matter how vast the scale, pales in comparison to the destruction of a single human soul.
That phrase is not quite accurate, of course, because a soul can never be destroyed. It would be more accurate to speak of “the destruction of a single human soul’s opportunity for eternal bliss”, or more simply, “the eternal damnation of a single human soul”. Thanks be to God for His sending the Son of Man to redeem man from his sins. This final truth is the reason for Jesus to speak hopefully at the end of today’s Gospel passage. In effect, Jesus preaches that we need not fear the end of the world, or the end of earthly life, because when we place our faith in the Son of Man, we can have full assurance that our redemption is at hand.