We’re at the end of our Liturgical Year and the readings from the Book of Daniel allow us to go “out with a bang!” Daniel’s visions that we’ve been hearing in these last few days are certainly extravagant to say the least. Frightening like some poorly made horror movie. So, what do we “get” from hearing things like this?
The answer might be found in the Gospel readings that have accompanied the readings from the Book of Daniel. Bottom line – be ready; be alert; know what’s happening and that to which we are being called: union with God In the everlasting kingdom.
Now, having said all that ‘party-line-stuff” we need to unpack it and make it our own. We are being pushed – not to a point of terror – but to an accountability of our lives and what we are all about. Without beating a dead horse, I still go back to the example of the Exodus: God called the Israelites to be “His Special People” and promised to be with them on their journey. He promises the same to each of us but we have to remember that it’s not enough to leave Egypt (or whatever we consider to be our enemy or sin) but we must also enter the promised land. Yes, Jesus stands at the door and knocks but we have to open the door. And it doesn’t just end there: Jesus comes in and dines with us but then asks us to follow him.
I remember an encounter with an obviously curious young man who had just walked into the church early in the morning. It was obvious that he hadn’t often been inside a Catholic church. He asked me a series of questions which led me know that he was a person who had just made “a decision for Christ” and considered himself “born again.” And, of course, he asked me if I had “accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior?” When I answered that I had he went to ask, “When?” as if I could go back to the moment when I first “left my Egypt.” I answered, “Why, just a moment ago when I decided to come into the church to set up for Mass.” That answer caught him off guard. The decision to “follow Christ” is not a one-shot thing. It has to be constantly renewed every moment of our waking lives. To “accept Jesus” also means that we embark on “The Way” and that “way” always leads us through various deserts and difficulties. Yet in all the trials of our lives Jesus is always there to call us back. No sin that I can come up with is beyond God’s power to forgive. We must never forget that. And Satan tries to convince us that we have committed some sin that is unforgivable and then we fall into his trap. It is true that there will come a time when Jesus returns – and that return will be spectacular. The readings from the Book of Daniel try to let us know how extraordinary that “coming” will be. But, our human words can not totally grasp the fullness of the event but we still stay on the “way” with Jesus. It helps if we remember the words of our St. Catherine of Siena who tells us, “It’s Heaven all the way to heaven!” Amen