November 25, 2011 - Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Daniel’s vision is somewhat obscure to us. These beasts are fantastical creatures. They are symbolic of something (that is how Daniel spoke), but whether these beasts have already come or are yet to come, whether they symbolize countries or individuals, we do not know. This prophecy seems like something from the book of Revelation, and like that book, interpretation is often pure speculation and rarely fruitful.

But the last part of Daniel’s prophecy is as clear as day. One like a son of man approaches the Ancient of Days on the throne and receives dominion, glory, and kingship. And “his dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away; his kingship shall not be destroyed.” Even the simplest Christian without any theological education at all can discern that the Ancient of Days is God the Father and the one like a son of man is God the Son. At the time Daniel wrote it, no one knew what it meant, but now we all do. Much prophecy is given simply so that when we see it fulfilled, we will believe.

Jesus tells his disciples the coming of the Kingdom of God is as obvious as the coming of summer. I am sure it was to his eyes. Yet this analogy is apropos to us 21st century people. I am sure that I miss many natural signs that would have been obvious to the disciples, to anyone 2000 years ago. I spend so much time indoors that I do not see the buds on the trees until it is almost in full bloom. Even then I would not be able to tell a fig tree from an apple tree until the fruit appeared.

So too the signs of Kingdom of God are not obvious to those who are not looking, and without experience it would be impossible to interpret those signs. I cannot tell if we are almost at the end of the world. It might be the beginning of the end or only the end of the beginning. There might be ten years left, and there might be 10,000. I have neither the eyes nor the mind to see the signs and interpret them, but I do not doubt that they are there. No one can predict when the end will arrive, but when it has come it will be obvious to everyone that the signs of the coming were everywhere.