As I watched:
Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
His throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.
The court was convened, and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw
One like a son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
He received dominion, glory, and kingship;
nations and peoples of every language serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened
and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Written by: Rev. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Let welcome Christ as our glorious King forever.
We look for eternal values; but we find only temporal and passing values in this world. For example, in the government of our nation, we had many leaders who promised before the election that they will change the nation and make people prosperous and happy; but the nation’s situation is not better. If we are lucky to have good or skillful leaders, they can be assassinated or died after some years. How can we find the one who has all virtues of a good leader, never dies, and has power over all the world? Is this only a dream and never happens?
Today readings show this dream can be achieved if men completely put their trust in Christ, the only Son of God. In the first reading, the prophet Daniel reported the vision of the Last Judgment in heaven. The Lord of heaven and earth will put everything in the hands of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. He will judge everyone, and God will makes him the king to govern people forever. His kingdom will have no end and his people will be peaceful, prosperous, and happy forever. In the Gospel, after Nathanael professed Jesus is the Son of God, the king of Israel, Jesus foretold him that he will see his glory when God’s angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
1/ Reading I: His dominion is an everlasting dominion… his kingship shall not be destroyed.
1.1/ The vision of the Last Judgment: The prophet Daniel lived in after the Exile (about 165 BC), and the Israelites’ expectation of a powerful Messiah will come to set them free from the power of the foreign country, was more urgent. All Israelites expected such a king because they are so tired of their leaders, and the slavery for all the empire such as Babylon, Persia, Media and Greek. They expect a good king like David to come to unite the twelve tribes, to win over foreign kings, and to govern them for a long time. The vision of Daniel in today report is not only limited to the Messiah of the Israelites, but also to the Messiah who will be the king to govern all nations forever.
(1) Who is the Ancient One on the throne: Daniel described this Ancient One as follows: “His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him.” These details about the Ancient One and His power made one to recognize the Ancient One is God Himself.
(2) Those who presented before God’s court: In God’s providence, He uses myriads of angels in governing the world. The angels have duties to report what happened in the world of man, and bestow graces from God to men. The presence of angels in the Last Judgment is a must, because they are the living witnesses of human beings. Those who are judged are human of all generations and those who lived at the end time.
1.2/ The vision about the Son of Man: The one who judge human beings is the Son of Man. This title originated from the Book of Daniel here and was used many times by Jesus in the Gospels. A special and important detail of Daniel’s vision may help us to recognize the Son of Man: He has the form of man but comes from heaven.
(1) He received power and glory from the Ancient One: “He received dominion, glory, and kingship.”
(2) He will govern all nations: He is very different with worldly kings because he will govern all of them, “nations and peoples of every language serve him.”
(3) He will govern them for ever: To govern forever requires
+ He must live forever: All worldly kings governed only in a certain time because they must die. He will govern forever because he is no longer died.
+ His kingdom will have no end: Worldly kingdoms always change hands, his kingdom will last forever and never be destroyed. This shows his power and strength.
+ His authority will also be forever.
2/ Gospel: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
2.1/ Christ is the Son of God: Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael was surprised not only because Jesus has power to see everything from afar; but also he knew everything that happened in his life. No one could do such things if he is not God Himself. This reflection led him to confess to Jesus: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
2.2/ God’s angels serve Jesus Christ: Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
The expression “heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” recalled us the Jacob’s vision of the ladder at Bethel (Gen 28:12). One end of the ladder touches the ground where Jacob was sleeping, one end reached the heaven where God is present, and God’s angels are ascending and descending on that ladder. The Jewish tradition believes angels are God’s messengers. They help God to govern the world by taking up people’s prayers to God, and bringing down God’s messages and graces to men. In the conversation between Jesus and Nathanael, Jesus wanted to say to him: He is the ladder connected between heaven and earth; through him, God’s angels are ascending and descending to serve men.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should completely put our trust in Christ and welcome him to be our king even in this world, because he is the only one that satisfies all our eternal values.
– We should not follow temporal and passing values of the world, because they cannot satisfy our desire in this world, and also not guarantee a happy and peaceful life for our future.