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(Part 161)


November 24, 2015

Today’s readings:
Daniel 2:31-45
Daniel 3:57-61
Luke 21:5-11

We are about to end the Church liturgical year, and the scriptures this week focus on the end times. From today till Saturday we will continue on this particular series.

Today’s gospel speaks about the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and also the end of time. As people and nations invest so much of themselves in and to the present world, as if there is no end to come, it is important that we know that indeed the end will come, and nothing of the world that we have built will endure. Neither the impressive temple in Jerusalem. “All that you see here­the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Lk 21:6). Neither the kingdoms of the earth. In the end, the kingdom of heaven “shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them” (Dn 2:44b).

The Jews never imagined their great temple that was “adorned with costly stones and votive offerings” (Lk 21:5) could ever be destroyed. King Nebuchadnezzar never saw his end coming as he was powerful and exalted. “You, O king, are the king of kings; to you the God of heaven has given dominion and strength, power and glory” (Dn 2:37). Such is the case today, with powerful nations, individuals and groups thinking they will live forever in their splendor.

But the end will come. And what will be the signs of the end? Jesus tells us. There will be false prophets. “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!” (Lk 21:8). Today there is a proliferation of sects and cults like never before, all claiming to be the authentic prophets and representatives of Christ. Today, even in our own Church, including some prelates, there are those who want to change the teaching of Christ and the Church’s Magisterium and pastoral practice, to accommodate what is evil.

There will be “wars and insurrections” (Lk 21:9a). Pope Francis says that “the whole world is at war,” that World War III has begun in a piecemeal way. Indeed. There are many flash points where global war can actually be triggered­in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in the South China Sea, in Kashmir, and so on. Nuclear holocaust can more and more become a dire reality. And wars today are not just between or among nations, but are within nations, with fellow nationals killing each other. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Lk 21:10). Wars will also be between ideologies, such as ISIS against all infidels (that is everyone except radical Sunnis).

Then there are the natural calamities. “There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place” (Lk 21:11a). Our rapidly degrading our environment and our wanton abuse of Mother Nature certainly contribute to more ecological disasters and worsening calamities. Our neglect of the poor and the colonialist policies of the West, fueled among other things by greed for the profits of war, result in global hunger and even famine. Unrestrained genetic modification of organisms, biological warfare, unethical use of vaccines to regulate fertility, and the like can devastate natural human defense mechanisms and trigger plagues.

We must read the signs of the times, and know that we are indeed in the end times. But that is not bad news but rather good news, in what it will usher in. “In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; .... and it shall stand forever.” (Dn 2:44a,c). That is the Kingdom to which we truly belong. Let us live for that Kingdom, and not for the kingdoms that will pass away.

We are called to the New Evangelization. We must strive to bring Christ to the ends of the earth, until the world and its secular powers acknowledge the true King. “All you powers, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.” (Dn 3:61). In this way, those who do so will no longer be in the company of those who are into war, greed, injustice, neglect of the poor. Rather, they will be with “all you works of the Lord,” the “angels of the Lord,” and the “heavens,” all blessing and praising God forever (Dn 3:57-59).

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