DANIEL 12:1-3, HEBREWS 10:11-14.18, MARK 13:24-32
JOY AT LAST
As the liturgical calendar draws to an end, the readings of today also remind us also of the end. The readings remind us that notwithstanding the sufferings and tribulations of the present time, there is hope at last for the children of God for the world is just for the moment. The momentary nature of the earthly existence offers hope for those that stand in the way of the truth and eternal damnation for those who abandon the truth. There is still hope for the children of God.
The Anguishing and Retributive Imagery of the End Time
The first and second readings project a horrific and retributive image of the last day. Daniel tells us there will be great anguish when Michael will rise and those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some shall live forever while others in everlasting horror and disgrace. In the gospel, Jesus affirmed the message of the reading; after the great tribulation comes the time of retribution with the appearance of the son of man. The book of Daniel is one of the major apocalyptic books of the Old Testament as chapters 7-12 foretell the end times and speak of the periods of great distress unsurpassed in history when Michael will rise. This period is called the period of great tribulation by Jesus in Mathew 24:21 and referenced in revelation 7:14.
The Political Background
These eschatological references were due to the political nature of the time when some nations wield great power and intimidation over the people. Daniel chapter 11 presents a cool picture of this political struggle. This reading came as a source of hope to the Jewish people under persecution at this time. The aim is to live wisely and justly at the moment. It is also important to note the political backdrop surrounding the gospel of Mark from where today’s reading sprang up. Most scholars agree that Mark wrote his gospel for Christians living in Rome about 30-40 years after the death of Christ which was also a time of political turmoil in Rome. When you read Mark’s gospel continuously you will observe constant prediction of death and end time, examples; Jesus cleansing of the temple (Mark 11:15-18) where he predicted his death and resurrection, the heavy cost of discipleship and the woes that will accompany those who don’t accept “whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Mark 8:24-35), Mark 10:28-31), Jesus instructing his disciples on the need to be faithful even in the days of tribulations (mark 13:1-23,24-32) and Jesus advising his disciples to be watchful so that they will not be caught unprepared for the final judgment (Mark 13:33-36). In today’s gospel then, Jesus advised his disciples not to lose hope but to be alert, for the son of man will appear again. This offers hope and strong faith to the believers. Their suffering will never be in vain, for joy must surely come at last.
Joy at Last
In the first reading, when Michael will rise, though it shall be a time of anguish as never occurred before since the beginning of nations, those whose names are written in the book will smile again. Daniel categorized them in two (1). Those who acquired wisdom and (2) those who taught people to be just- they are those who spend their lives converting souls for God.
The book of wisdom started with a description of what wisdom is all about; “think rightly of the Lord and seek him with simplicity of heart and he will reveal himself to those who trust him (wisdom 1 :1-3) Gods revelation of his mysteries is wisdom and anyone who possesses this divine revelations has wisdom. Wisdom is divine, it is far more than ordinary intelligence, and wisdom comes only when the Lord takes deep possession of the heart.
Jesus is wisdom par excellence, those who seek him will acquire him, and only those who acquire him will shine at the last day. The end time may be horrific but there is joy at last for those who have washed themselves in the blood of the lamb. In the gospel, the coming of the Son of Man will give solace to those who are already chosen. They are those who spent their lives seeking him in sincerity of heart, and those who make others seek God.
The challenge posed by today’s readings is not to know when the end is coming but to live today as if the end will be right now. The world we live in is simply momentary, and should not be lived as if it is eternal. The question is, “can the type of life you live now save souls for God or send souls to hell fire. It is not all about going to church, riding the best cars, living in the finest houses. All you enjoy in this world is momentary. The question is how many souls you will lay at His feet on the last day. The end is still unknown; this calls for constant renewal and preparation. Spend your life seeking God, and converting souls. You will shine like the splendor of the sky.