THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for November 29th, 2013
Liturgical texts here.
THE prophet Daniel is given a powerful and frightening vision of four empires that would dominate for a time—the fourth being a world-wide tyranny from which the Antichrist would come forth, according to Tradition. Both Daniel and Christ describe what the times of this “beast” will look like, albeit from different perspectives.
Daniel describes a totalitarian regime that has “great iron teeth with which it devoured and crushed, and what was left it trampled with its feet.” Jesus, on the other hand, seems to describe the chaos and effects that preceed and accompany the beast: the destruction of Jerusalem, nation rising against nation, powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues from place to place. He mentions persecution, the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies, and then some cosmic calamity that affects the oceans and seas. cf. Luke 21:5-28
Are there signs that the times of the beast are upon us? In just the past century alone, we have seen two world wars, ongoing genocide, and now a nuclear arms race between several nations. We are also witnessing powerful earthquakes with enormous destructive powers, from Japan to Haita, New Zealand to Indonesia. Food shortages, due to foul economic and agricultural practices, are rampant in third world countries… and now the world is poised for an explosion of “plagues” as we enter the post-antiboitic era where our drugs simply no longer work.
Pope Francis, perhaps not coincidentally, has released his Apostolic Exhortation during this week when we read of Daniel’s totalitarian beast, which St. John confirms in Revelation 13 is also an economic tyranny. cf. Rev 13:16-17 In his document, the Holy Father speaks of the present “system”, saying:
A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 56
Yes, even the environment is being trampled underfoot as we continue to inject poisons into our food, water, and soil. In the Psalm today, we pray:
You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. (Daniel 3)
But we read this month that dolphins are dying off in record numbers—and moose, birds, fish, and other creatures with often inexplicable causes. The praise of creation is being turned into lamentation.
And what of persecution? There have been more martyrs in the past century than all the previous 20 centuries combined. And it is clear that Christian liberties are disappearing, not only in more hostile environments such as Islamic regions, but North America too, where freedom of speech is quickly vanishing. And it will come, that moment, said the Holy Father, when the enemies of the Church will have eclipsed all truth.
It will be like the triumph of the prince of this world: the defeat of God. It seems that in that final moment of calamity, he will take possession of this world, that he will be the master of this world. —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, November 28th, 2013, Vatican City; Zenit.org
But Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that, as victorious believers, we are to see things in a different light:
…when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. (Luke 21:31-32)
The times of persecution mean that that the victory of Jesus Christ is near… This week it will do us well to think of this general apostasy, which is called the prohibition of adoration, and ask ourselves: ‘Do I adore the Lord? Do I adore Jesus Christ, the Lord? Or is it half and half, do I play the play the prince of this world… To adore till the end, with loyalty and faithfulness: this is the grace that we should ask for this week.’ —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, November 28th, 2013, Vatican City; Zenit.org
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