01 Dec 2023 – Friday Week 34

01 Dec 2023 – Friday Week 34

First Reading Daniel 7: 2-14

In the vision I saw during the night, suddenly the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea, from which emerged four immense beasts, each different from the others. The first was like a lion, but with eagle’s wings. While I watched, the wings were plucked; it was raised from the ground to stand on two feet like a human being, and given a human mind. The second beast was like a bear;* it was raised up on one side, and among the teeth in its mouth were three tusks. It was given the order, “Arise, devour much flesh.”

After this I looked and saw another beast, like a leopard;* on its back were four wings like those of a bird, and it had four heads. To this beast dominion was given. After this, in the visions of the night I saw a fourth beast, terrifying, horrible, and of extraordinary strength; it had great iron teeth with which it devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet what was left. It differed from the beasts that preceded it. It had ten horns. I was considering the ten horns it had, when suddenly another, a little horn, sprang out of their midst, and three of the previous horns were torn away to make room for it. This horn had eyes like human eyes, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly.

As I watched, Thrones were set up and the Ancient of Days took his throne. His clothing was white as snow, the hair on his head like pure wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A river of fire surged forth, flowing from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads stood before him.  The court was convened, and the books were opened. I watched, then, from the first of the arrogant words which the horn spoke, until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the burning fire.

As for the other beasts, their dominion was taken away, but they were granted a prolongation of life for a time and a season. As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven. One like a son of man. When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendour, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed.


Responsorial: from Psalm 83

R./: Here God lives among his people

My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.  (R./)

The sparrow herself finds a home
and the swallow a nest for her brood;
she lays her young by your altars,
Lord of hosts, my king and my God.  (R./)

They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you.
They walk with ever growing strength.  (R./)

Gospel: Luke 21:29-33

Know that the reign of God is near. My word will not pass away

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.


Something new and glorious

The apocalyptic book of Revelation was written for Christians who were dumbfounded by persecution under the Roman empire and the church felt hounded on all sides. The inspired text foretold the collapse of the tyrannical empire, leading to a period of peace and harmony. After that will come the second appearance of Christ, the new heavens and the new earth, the new holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

Today’s gospel offers a much plainer image for something new about to happen. From the example of the budding fig tree we know that summer is near. So “when you see all the things happening, know that the reign of God is near.” Both readings offer signs whose meaning is not immediately clear, and we ask the Lord to show what these signs mean for us, here and now.

The fig tree is in full bloom and the harvest is near, yet it may not seem obvious at all to us. We have to live in the real world of today. How shall we make sense of the apocalyptic prophecies? Maybe by praying to know the message beneath the surface of those texts. As part of the word of God, they anticipate future, when heaven and earth will be made new. Wonderfully, our world will be transformed into the City of God, like a lovely bride going to meet her husband.

In the midst of flux something abides

We live in a world of flux, of rapid and bewildering change, changes in society, changes in the church, miracles and menaces of digital wizardry. Many people find change disconcerting and unsettling. In the midst of such challenging change we need some kind of spiritual anchor, some solid truths that can be trusted. We find change easier to manage if at least some things remain the same.

Jesus told us to expect change, not just gradual change as in the seasons of the year, but change on a cosmic scale, hugely significant change. He talks of heaven and earth passing away, the most radical change of all. Then he promises that something will never change. “My words will never pass away.” Throughout all of life the word of the Lord remains a constant, because God is faithful. In the midst of flux the Lord abides; when all else is whirling, our connection with God, our trust in him, keeps us steady and on course to meet God face to face.

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