One reason people do not read the Bible is they claim that it was written so long ago that it is no longer relevant to us. That comes from a great misunderstanding of the Bible and its purpose. Today’s first reading is over 2500 years old and today’s Gospel is about 2000 years old. When this homily is over, you will see that everything in these readings is relevant to everyone today.
Another important point is that non-believers say that when they see a sign they will believe in God. So they are looking for lightning strikes, or powerful earthquakes, etc. The problem is that there are signs and these people do not see them. What we are looking at today is one of those signs.
If you look at the first reading, you will see a word from the Prophet Daniel. This dream happened twenty-five hundred years ago. It comes from a time known as the Babylonian Exile, this is when the Jews, after being warned by the prophets that they had strayed from God, continued to disobey. God allowed, therefore, actually he promised, that they were going to be disciplined by being conquered by the Babylonian Empire who were every bit as vicious as ISIS is today. It was during the reign of King Belshazzar towards the end of that exile that this dream happened. King Belshazzar was the last King of the Babylonian Empire.
The Babylonians not only conquered Judah, they destroyed the temple and the dragged rich and powerful among the Jews into their native land which is now called Iraq.
Daniel’s dream leads him to see one like the Son of Man sitting on a throne judging all nations and all nations are looking to Him. The term Son of Man here is the exact reference Jesus makes when he calls Himself the Son of Man. He is essentially saying, I am the figure in Daniel’s dream. You can see that those words would be highly controversial to the leaders of the Jews in Jesus’ time.
But, the idea that this dream was significant during the Babylonian exile would be absurd. The thought that all the world would look at this figure in the dream and that they would focus on Jerusalem would be a ridiculous idea in the time of Daniel. First Jerusalem is destroyed, the Temple is in ruins and finally the rest of the world would consider preposterous the idea that Jerusalem would be the focus of the whole world. It is like today if we were to say that in the future the whole world will worship in Riga. I am sure some of you are saying: “where is Riga?” The point is Jerusalem was not a place of worldwide significance or for that matter neither was the God of Jews considered such at the time of this dream. By the way, I am sure your Latvian friends will tell you that Riga is a beautiful city to visit.
However, today, we all look to Jerusalem. We all worship that God that Daniel talked about and according the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this dream is the prediction of the fact that at Jesus’ Ascension following His death and resurrection he fulfilled that part of the dream that makes him the King. (664)
Now let me explain something to you. Many people are saying we are living in the Post-Christian era. We are living in a time that people say God does not exist. A recent column in the New York Times says that the concept that there is purpose to life is an evolutionary invention produced for the survival of the race and no more. Many people teach that there is no God, but look carefully, all that is happening today is further fulfillment of Daniel’s dream. This is exactly what Daniel said would happen. It is what happens next that is our focus. We are actually living what has been predicted. That is one of your signs that everything we believe and do is real.
But take that to mean that what we believe is true and all that has been predicted that can come true, has come true, but there is still more. That is one of your signs. In our worship, people from all over the world are focused on worshiping the Son of Man focused on Jerusalem. There is a line of demarcation happening where Kingdoms are rising up against the disciples of this Son of Man and now whole countries are doing the same.
This is also significant, Pope Leo XIII explained that just as a person who rejects Christ trusts in a false sense of wisdom and goes astray, the same consequences will affect nations that reject Christ. So, nations that turn from Christ are on the road to destruction just as much as people. The result will be a further rising up against the Son of Man and His disciples until such time as he returns and eliminates those who have rejected him, and embraces those who persevered in Him, also predicted by Daniel among others.
Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration when Jesus is transfigured in front of Moses, Elijah and three Apostles, This is the beginning of his march to the throne of the Son of Man and the beginning of the fulfilment of that dream.
It is also the anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. This unleashed, as you know not only a terrible power but a terrifying era in human history. Today, we are in a war of tension between a country that long ago rejected Christ, that elevated its leader to deity and now threatens our shores literally with a missile. I am by the way not expecting him to actually carry out his threat, but I am concerned one of these days there will be miscalculation and he will accidentally bomb our shores or those of another country by accident. That will change everything.
Today’s readings lead us to ask the question, whom do you seek? The wisdom of the world represented by Babylon that relies on the false gods of our own day, just as King Belshazzar did in his day, or the wisdom of Christ which is being fulfilled daily just as Daniel predicted in his dream twenty-five hundred years ago.