Daniel 7:2-14; (Psalm) Daniel 3:75-81;Luke 21:29-33
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:14)
Fantastical characters, carnage and battle, unexpected plot twists—Hollywood blockbusters certainly have nothing on Daniel’s vision! Movies use creative techniques and special effects, but at their core, they are still just trying to tell a story. And so is Daniel. So we should ask ourselves what he’s saying.
It can be tempting to try to dissect Daniel’s story. What does the horn mean? Why does one beast have his feathers plucked? Why were the beasts, once defeated, granted a “prolongation of life”? And why in the midst of the story of all those beasts do we have descriptions of an “Ancient One”? Biblical scholars say Daniel’s vision is really a creative interpretation of Israel’s past and present, ending with the promise that God’s justice will prevail. But that doesn’t keep us from wanting to look for predictions of the future in the cryptic symbolism Daniel uses.
But Jesus cuts through it all. In today’s Gospel reading, after he himself has described the end times, he makes a simple but crucial point. When the tree buds, summer is coming. It is something we can see for ourselves. It’s the same with the signs of the times. We don’t need complicated tools to dissect scary prophesies. Jesus is coming again. We know how the story ends—with Jesus’ victory!
Will we confront turbulence? Yes. Will natural disasters occur? Yes. Will people try to deceive the faithful? Yes. But don’t forget: all of this has gone on since the fall of our first parents, and it will continue until Jesus comes again. But no matter what the future holds, Jesus is victorious! As Pope Francis proclaimed at the inaugural Mass for this year’s World Youth Day, “The ‘dragon,’ evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The One with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope!”
Even Daniel’s bizarre-sounding tale ends with the everlasting dominion of the Ancient One. That’s what we have to hold on to in times of turmoil, confusion, and fear. Take heart! Hold on! Christ is in you, and he is victorious!
“Jesus, I believe that you have authority over all things. Help me not to take my eyes off you. Lord, I want to hold on to you no matter what!”~WAU