THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for September 29th, 2014
Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
Liturgical texts here
The Fig Tree
BOTH Daniel and St. John write of a terrible beast that rises to overwhelm the entire world for a short time… but is followed by the establishment of God’s Kingdom, “an everlasting dominion.” It is given not only to the one “like a son of man”, cf. First reading but…
…the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High. (Dan 7:27)
This sounds like Heaven, which is why many mistakenly speak of the end of the world after the fall of this beast. But the Apostles and Church Fathers understood it differently. They anticipated that, at some point in the future, God’s Kingdom would come in a profound and universal way before the end of time.
We do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem… —Tertullian (155–240 A.D.), Nicene Church Father; Adversus Marcion, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Henrickson Publishers, 1995, Vol. 3, pp. 342-343)
This is reaffirmed by the Magisterium:
The Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, [is] destined to be spread among all men and all nations… —POPE PIUS XI, Quas Primas, Encyclical, n. 12, Dec. 11th, 1925; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 763
Likewise, The Teachings of the Catholic Church, published by a theological commission in 1952, concluded that it is not contrary to Catholic teaching to believe or profess…
…a hope in some mighty triumph of Christ here on earth before the final consummation of all things. Such an occurrence is not excluded, is not impossible, it is not all certain that there will not be a prolonged period of triumphant Christianity before the end.
In today’s alternate first reading, St. Michael the Archangel is seen as breaking the power of the dragon (Satan) and his fallen angels. The context is clearly ‘not the fall of the angels at the dawn of time’ cf. Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Revelation, p. 51 but of a future expulsion and reduction of Satan’s power (that is then concentrated in the “beast”). At that point, however—even before the beast is defeated—St. John hears a loud voice in heaven crying out,
Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. (First reading)
How are we to understand this, especially when we read in the next chapter that the beast is “allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them”? cf. Rev 13:7 The answer is that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual reign, not a political one, even though the implications of that spiritual reign will touch every sphere in society in a profound way when it comes about, as in a new Pentecost.
“And they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” May God… shortly bring to fulfillment His prophecy for transforming this consoling vision of the future into a present reality… It is God’s task to bring about this happy hour and to make it known to all… When it does arrive, it will turn out to be a solemn hour, one big with consequences not only for the restoration of the Kingdom of Christ, but for the pacification of… the world. We pray most fervently, and ask others likewise to pray for this much-desired pacification of society. —POPE PIUS XI, Ubi Arcani dei Consilioi “On the Peace of Christ in his Kingdom”, December 23, 1922
So, when Daniel hears in his vision that “his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed,” that is because the breaking of the dragon’s power is concomitant with the coming of the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with St. Michael and the angels assistance; the “woman clothed with the sun” is laboring to give birth to this very thing: the reign of her Son over the earth such that the body of Christ will reach its “full stature” before the end of time—a reign that will continue into eternity in a state of glory and perfection. cf. Eph 4:13
The soft light of my Flame of Love will light up spreading fire over the entire surface of the earth, humiliating Satan rendering him powerless, completely disabled. Do not contribute to prolong the pains of childbirth. —Our Lady to Elizabeth Kindelmann; The Flame of Love, Imprimatur from Archbishop Charles Chaput
Daniel and John foresaw the establishment of the reign of Jesus in the hearts of the saints in a universal manner. So even though some will be martyred during this time, the beast will not be able to destroy the Kingdom within, that will spread from coast to coast.
…the Spirit of Pentecost will flood the earth with his power… People will believe and will create a new world… The face of the earth will be renewed because something like this has not happened since the Word became flesh. —Jesus to Elizabeth Kindelmann, The Flame of Love, p. 61
The Church looks forward, then, to a final triumph: an era of peace in which the Church will be called like Nathaniel in today’s Gospel from beneath the shadow of the “fig tree” into the gift of living in the Divine Will “on earth as it is in heaven.”
This is our great hope and our invocation, ‘Your Kingdom come!’—a Kingdom of peace, justice and serenity, which will re-establish the original harmony of creation. —ST. POPE JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, November 6th, 2002, Zenit
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