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Saturday – Thirty-fourth Week – OT1
Readings: Dan 7:15-27; Lk 21:34-36.
Reading 1 (Dan 7:15-27):
I, Daniel, found my spirit anguished within its covering of flesh,
and I was terrified by the visions of my mind.
I approached one of those present
and asked him what all this meant in truth;
in answer, he made known to me the meaning of the things:
“These four great beasts stand for four kingdoms
which shall arise on the earth.
But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship,
to possess it forever and ever.”
But I wished to make certain about the fourth beast,
so very terrible and different from the others,
devouring and crushing with its iron teeth and bronze claws,
and trampling with its feet what was left;
about the ten horns on its head, and the other one that sprang up,
before which three horns fell;
about the horn with the eyes and the mouth that spoke arrogantly,
which appeared greater than its fellows.
For, as I watched, that horn made war against the holy ones
and was victorious until the Ancient One arrived;
judgment was pronounced in favor of the holy ones of the Most High,
and the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom.
He answered me thus:
“The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth
different from all the others;
It shall devour the whole earth,
beat it down, and crush it.
The ten horns shall be ten kings
rising out of that kingdom;
another shall rise up after them,
Different from those before him,
who shall lay low three kings.
He shall speak against the Most High
and oppress the holy ones of the Most High,
thinking to change the feast days and the law.
They shall be handed over to him
for a year, two years, and a half-year.
But when the court is convened,
and his power is taken away
by final and absolute destruction,
Then the kingship and dominion and majesty
of all the kingdoms under the heavens
shall be given to the holy people of the Most High,
Whose Kingdom shall be everlasting:
all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
Gospel (Lk 21:34-36):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
I. THEME: Be alert and pray unceasingly!
People need to realize that life is a continuous fighting with three enemies: the devil, the world and one’s own flesh. All these enemies are dangerous and stronger than them. How can people fight with such powerful enemies? Human weapons are to be alert and to pray without ceasing.
Today readings emphasize the fighting with these enemies and the way to overcome them. In the first reading, the prophet Daniel explained the vision of the four beasts, especially the fourth one; and the victory of God’s saints after these four beasts’ reigns. In the Gospel, Jesus cautioned his disciples about the suddenness of what will happen in one’s life and his Second Coming. To counter this suddenness, all need to be alert and pray incessantly.
1/ Reading I: Their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.
1.1/ Explaining of the four wild beasts vision: Daniel was anxious and the visions of his head alarmed him. He approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. They made known to him the interpretation of the things: “These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, for ever and ever.”
Four beasts represented for four kingdoms that subsequently dominated the Ancient Near East at that time; they are: Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greek. Each symbol in the beast symbolizes for kings that governed in these kingdoms. The two wings of the first beast represent the two Assyrian kings: Tiglath-Pilaser III and Sargon. Three tusks in the mouth of the second beast represented for three babylon kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Evilmerodach and Belshazzar. The third beast represented for the Persia kingdom, its four wings represented for the four Persian kings: Cyrus, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, and Darius.
1.2/ The fourth beast represented for the Greek kingdom.
(1) The vision of the fourth beast: “Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrible, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze; and which devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet; and concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up and before which three of them fell, the horn which had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and which seemed greater than its fellows. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints, and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints received the kingdom.”
(2) The explanation of the fourth beast: “As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, two times, and half a time. But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end.”
This was the description of king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He maltreated the Jews; commanded them to forsake their ancestral religion to worship his idols; cancelled out all Jewish law, the Sabbath, and all feasts; and severely punished those who disobeyed him (cf. I Mac 1:41-64). His kingdom was only temporal by the description of three and a half; it is only half of seven, the perfect number. This was the time to try and to purify the Jews before they could be victorious.
1.3/ The Messiah’s age: After the ages of the four kingdoms of the four beasts is the age of the Messiah, which Daniel already mentioned in yesterday passage (Dan 7:9-14). The Messiah had a figure of the son of man; but an origin from heaven. He received his dominion from the Ancient One, and his kingdom will last for ever. Today passage confirmed that vision: “And 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; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.”
2/ Gospel: Watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.
2.1/ The worldly temptations: Jesus warned his disciples about two things that could prevent them to prepare for the Last Day:
(1) Dissipation and drunkenness: Exceedingly eating makes human body heavy and lazy. Such heavy body will not have power to accomplish anything. Out-of-control drinking makes people drunken and their minds aren’t clear to judge rightly. People must be temperate in eating and drinking so that they have a clear mind to understand God’s teaching and to practice them.
(2) Caring too much for this life: Jesus taught a man can’t serve two masters, God and mammon. Of course, a man needs to work to earn his living as long as he lives in this world; but he can’t spend all his time to care for his material dimension. Jesus advised his audience: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal” (Jn 6:27).
Jesus continually warned them: If you don’t prepare, “that day come upon you suddenly like a snare;for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.” At that time, if one wants to escape, it would be too late.
2.2/ The importance of praying: Jesus knew the importance of praying. He was constantly praying with his Father and taught his disciples how to pray. He advised his disciples what they need to do in preparing for the Last Day: “Watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” Praying increases the relationship between human and God. The more intimate of this relationship is, the more eager one prepares for his Second Coming.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We need to learn to know a future and everlasting life with God since one “can’t love what he doesn’t know.” The attraction of the immortal life will help us to prepare for it right in this world. If not, laziness and worldly temptations will make our mind heavy, we aren’t eager for his Second Coming, and we will be sorry when it comes.
– A life of intimate praying with God can’t be lacked because it increases our desire to meet the One we love.