|The Prophet Daniel was a young man when he was captured in Jerusalem, and taken to Babylon, by the invading soldiers of King Nebuchadnazzar. He soon became known at the King’s court for his wisdom and ability to interpret dreams. One of the King’s dreams featured a statue made of many precious and non-precious components. Daniel was not intimidated by the fact that he was a captive when he confronted a man so powerful that he was known as the King of Kings, conqueror of Judah, and destroyer of the first temple. Daniel told the King the meaning of each element of the dream statue. The most unwelcome part of Daniel’s message for the King was the portion that meant that every earthly kingdom, no matter what its strength, composition, or worth, easily can be ended by the hand of God. The great power and majesty of God, like the stone in the King’s dream, will fill the earth.
Jesus speaks in similar terms in today’s gospel reading. He speaks to the people of the impending destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem; “there will not be left a stone upon another stone…”. Those who listened to Jesus knew well that the temple could be destroyed, and that they could be taken, as their ancestors had, as captives. Jesus could not have chosen a more dire prediction to capture their attention. I believe that the most important phrase that Jesus tells us in today’s gospel is, “many will come in my name, saying ‘I am he’ and ‘the time has come.” He implies by this that he, in fact, is the chosen one. The time had come. God would, and does, replace the temporal powers, and continues to fill the world with His power and majesty.
We all have witnessed, if not in person, in the news media, the end of nations, plagues, wars, famine, and earthquakes. We daily are reminded of our own weakness and impermanence. Should we be terrified? I turned to the Alleluia in today’s readings for my answer: “Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”