Friday November 25, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Daniel 7:2-14) Gospel (St. Luke 21:29-33)
As we come now to the very end of the Church’s year, being that Sunday is the first day of the new year, we hear these readings about what is going to happen at the very end. Now we have to see it in two different ways because as we hear from the Book of the Prophet Daniel about these four beasts that come up out of the ocean and so on, we see the exact same image in the Book of Revelation. What had happened back in the time of Daniel and up into the time that Our Lord was born into this world is going to happen again, something that is going to be similar.
The same is true with regard to what Our Lord said. Amen, I say to you, He says, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. People get confused when they read that and say, “Well, how can this be about the end of the world because the world didn’t end during the time that generation was alive when Our Lord spoke these words.” But all of them did take place during that generation. If you look at the things Our Lord spoke about Jerusalem, every single thing happened that He said–in that generation. It happened in the year 70 when the Romans attacked Jerusalem.
But then He goes on to say, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away, telling us that there is going to be something else, something beyond just the destruction of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem is going to be a harbinger of what it is, and that is going to be the end of the world. So just as happened in Jerusalem, as it was surrounded and destroyed and burnt, so too Our Lord tells us that at the end of the world the heavens and the earth are going to pass away in fire. Everything is going to be burned. Before that happens, as we hear, there are going to be these beasts, one of which is given the order to get up and devour much flesh, just like what the Romans did to the Jews who were in Jerusalem. There are others that are given dominion, just like what happened back then. And so we see again that same kind of pattern.
Now Our Lord tells us also that we need to consider the signs of the times. He says, When you look at the trees and you see their buds burst open, you know that summer is near. Well, it does not take a genius to look around these days and see that something is clearly going on, and while it is not the end of the world, as I told you many times before, it is still going to be a very, very ugly time. Like what happened in Jerusalem, as horrible as that was, it is a prefiguration of the end of the world. So too will this be, because we live in such an unbelieving age. We live in an age that has rejected God. Therefore, God is allowing evil to come right out of all of the mess that we are in, and people who refuse to believe are going to pay the price within themselves. But it will not just be those who refuse to believe; there are going to be many who do believe who are going to be persecuted and even martyred. We need to be prepared in our hearts for these things. We need to make sure that we are going to remain faithful.
Once again, if we can say that by looking at the signs of the times we should be able to know something is near, all we have to do is think about ourselves right now. We are all sitting here wearing winter coats. Why? Because it got cold outside. We know that winter is arriving and we prepare ourselves for it. Look at what you did to your homes over the last month or two, getting ready for winter, preparing for what is to come. The same thing needs to happen spiritually. We do not need to pack up six months’ worth of food and have all kinds of stuff stored in our basements. We need to make sure that our souls are prepared, that what is necessary–what is truly necessary–is in place. We see the signs of the times on the natural level and we prepare. We see the signs of the times on the spiritual level and we need to prepare spiritually. That is what it has to be about.
Then whatever happens, let it happen. As long as our hearts are prepared and we are in the right place spiritually, nothing else matters because not only is God reigning over all, as we saw in the first reading, but there is another like a son of man, Who indeed is the Son of Man, Who is given dominion over all, and that is Our Lord Himself. The beasts lost their power, they lost their dominion, and they were destroyed. But there is One Whose throne is forever, and His dominion is without end. That is the One Whom we must serve, that is the One upon Whom our hearts must be set. As long as they are there, as long as we are united with Him, we have nothing at all to fear.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.