As we come to the last couple of Sundays of the Liturgical year, we start our annual tour through Apocalyptic Biblical literature. Apocalypse comes from the Greek and denotes a Revelation from God. In recent times it often is being referred to end of times (eschatological) predictions. The apocalyptic writings are full of poetry and metaphors. Interpreting the passages literally would be mistake as much as dismissing them as nothing but poetry. The metaphors tell us the truth that Heaven and Earth as we know it may indeed pass away, but not before a final resolution of good triumphing over evil. Biblical apocalypse was written in times of persecution, to encourage the harassed by telling them that their sufferings were not going unnoticed by God, and that they would prevail in the end. Courage, not fear, was being promoted.
The First Reading from the last chapter of the Book of Daniel is from the Sixth century BCE during the Babylonian captivity, where Daniel, an Israelite became advisor to King Nebuchadnezzar. While not in this week’s passage, there is one expression from the Prophet Daniel that has made it to our times, ‘seeing the writing on the wall’. In the mid 90’s I sang with the Florida Philharmonic Chorus, Leonard Bernstein’s ChiChester Psalms under the direction of the British Maestro James Judd. It was an incredible experience in five venues in
thought …. the apocalyptic style is encrypted poetry and scholars continue to try to decode the underlying meanings. Daniel reassures the Israelites during their difficult times that God’s kingdom will prevail in the end and makes one of the early references to the Resurrection and Eternal Peace.
The passage from the Gospel according to Mark tells us about the second coming of Christ in a very pictorial way. While early Christians and among them many of the apostles expected it to happen during their life time, we really don’t know when it will happen. The last verse of this week’s passage from Mark, quotes Jesus’ unequivocal statement "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Some have referred the prediction of “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place” as a way of foretelling the individual experience we all may have at the end of our own lives rather than focusing on the eternal validity of Jesus’ teachings (“my words will not pass away”).
In essence as we are coming to the end of the liturgical calendar year we remind ourselves about the reality of an end of times, either individually or collectively, in which good does prevail over evil. This is a message of hope, despite all the horrors and atrocities of our times, which are not that different from the horrors of the Babylonian captivity and the persecutions of the early Christians, as well as all the history since then through our days.
The complete text of today’s
With God’s Love and Blessings,
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