34th Week in Ord. Time, Friday – 1st December 2023 – Dan 7,2-14; Lk 21,29-33
Apocalyptic Vision of Hope
The first reading from Daniel presents in apocalyptic style, the succession of kingdoms that rule over Israel until God establishes an everlasting kingdom. The symbols and exotic images used in this vision describe apparently past events and convey a prophetic message of hope to people living under oppression and persecution. It describes the four kingdoms that existed between the Babylonian Exile and the time of destruction of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. The first beast is a winged lion and symbolizes the Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. The bear is the second beast and alludes to the Median kingdom. The quick moving leopard refers to the kingdom of Cyrus and the Persians. The fourth beast, the most terrible among others, is the Greek kingdom under the Seleucid kings, of which Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the worst since he destroyed the Temple and killed many faithful Jews until the Maccabean Revolt. This passage is meant to inspire and encourage the faithful with the promise of a new and everlasting kingdom that will be established by God. The ‘Son of Man’, the Christ, is the one in whom and through whom the salvation of God’s people would come to be realized. He is the expected Messiah, the King and Liberator of suffering Israel. He will be enthroned as ruler over the whole earth and his kingdom will never be destroyed.