Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Daniel 7: 2-14; Luke21:29-33)
Apocalyptic literature shows God coming to the rescue when things seem most dire. For many today such writing seems more cartoonish than the stuff of good drama. Yet it engages people’s consciousness when they are threatened by a calamity. Apocalyptic writers offer hope to those who have experienced a long, hard struggle.
The only example of a completely apocalyptic work in the New Testament is the Book of Revelation. There faithful Christians are assured victory over their Roman persecutors. In the Old Testament the Book of the Prophet Daniel is the prime example of the apocalyptic. It was written in the second century before Christ the wicked Antiochus IV Epiphanes was oppressing Israel. The book foresees an eventual reversal of lots. Today’s grotesque passage is apparently an alternative account of the reading from Daniel heard at mass on Tuesday. The four beasts represent the succession of empires leading to the everlasting reign of God. The passage foresees God eventually triumphing over the successive reigns of terror.
Some understand apocalyptic literature as a literal description of the future. It is better for us to spiritualize its meaning. We will not face fiercely shaped beasts in the future. But we will struggle against evil everyday of our lives. Evil takes the form of illegitimate desire for pleasure, possessions, or power. As God comes to the rescue in apocalyptic literature, we beg His help in our struggles.