Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, "You were looking, O king, and lo! there was a great statue. This statue was huge, its brilliance extraordinary; it was standing before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of that statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked on, a stone was cut out, not by human hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
"This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation. You, O king, the king of kings--to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the might, and the glory, into whose hand he has given human beings, wherever they live, the wild animals of the field, and the birds of the air, and whom he has established as ruler over them all--you are the head of gold. After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth.
And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these. As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the strength of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with the clay. As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever; just as you saw that a stone was cut from the mountain not by hands, and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The great God has informed the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation trustworthy."
All things the Lord has made, bless the Lord.
Angels of the Lord! all bless the Lord.
Heavens! bless the Lord. (R./)
Waters above the heavens! bless the Lord.
Powers of the Lord! all bless the Lord.
Some people were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings. And Jesus said, "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down."
They asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?" And he said, "Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is near!' Do not go after them.
"When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately." Then he aid to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
At the end of the liturgical year we meet some of the most symbol-laden literature in the Bible, about the end of the world, which also ranks among the Bible's most popular parts among people with a taste for apocalyptic violence and science fiction. We must be careful in interpreting it, as the language is highly coloured and emotionally evocative. Jesus cautions us by saying, "Take care not to be misled." The liturgy provides the surest way to interpret these passages, bidding us take responsibility for our actions, examine where we are spiritually, and face our mortality. It tells us that the end of history will open up a new beginning for mankind. With the imminence of Advent and the feast of our Saviour's birth, we are offered a new lease of life.
Assessed by faith, all human efforts to dominate others will come to a sorry end. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of statue with its four principal sections represented the four great kingdoms that successively oppressed Israel: the Babylonians, Medes, Persians and Greeks. No matter how colossal they were, and how seemingly invincible, these kingdoms collapsed. For an oppressed people the message was that for all their power and prestige, material wealth and political clout, none of these proud empires could last forever. All that lasts is what God achieves in our lives. this will be the a "kingdom that shall never be destroyed." But we may have to pass through many difficulties before eventually all will be well, when the Son of Man comes in glory.
At this dark time of year, the readings tend to focus on the darker side of human experience. They speak of destruction, loss, conflict and deception. It is a suitable background to the dark days of November. When we begin the new liturgical year next Sunday with Advent, the days will remain dark, but the readings take on a brighter hue and look forward to the coming of the light.
Jesus foretold the destruction of the wonderful Temple in Jerusalem, as well as other tragic events. Nobody could imagine the temple in Jerusalem being destroyed. This magnificent structure had taken nearly fifty years to build, and was world famous. But even the finest buildings only last so long. We are meant not to get too attached to structures that do not last. Instead, we are to rely on Jesus, who is greater than the Temple. When all else fails and disappears, he endures, and through our relationship with him we too will last.