Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the kingdom of God is near, and it is approaching! Yes, that is the key message of the readings, especially that of the Gospel we heard today. And indeed, the kingdom of God is already here, with us, and dwelling in us. This is precisely as Christ had proclaimed to the people of the coming of His kingdom.
In the first reading, we heard about how Daniel showed his vision of the end of times, in which the Lord revealed to him of the difficult times that would come to the people of God. The beast was known to be the infamous Greek king, Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire, about one and a half centuries before the birth of Christ.
And that beast, king Antiochus, persecuted the people of God, those who still keep up their faith and devotion to the One, True God. The evil king enforced pagan rules and rites on the people, and many people apostatised their faith out of fear for punishment and death. The Temple and House of the Lord in Jerusalem was desecrated and made into a house of pagans.
Suffering was great at that time, under the reign and tyranny of the evil king, the loathsome beast on the horn, the one seen by Daniel. The people who kept their faith were tortured, imprison, and met their end in painful death. They were forced by the king to disobey the laws of God and to commit acts profane in the Lord’s eyes. Yet, there are many who resisted, and preferred death to disobedience.
But the Lord did not just leave His people in suffering without help or hope. For He raised the deliverance of the people through the Maccabees, who fought empowered by God’s providence and eventually liberated the people from the tyranny of the evil king Antiochus. The king himself was punished with painful death, with excruciating pain and endless suffering till the end of his life. That was when the beast in the vision of Daniel was punished and destroyed by the power of God.
That is a foreshadowing of the events that is to come, and I am sure you are all familiar with the Book of Revelation by St. John the Evangelist. For the devil too will, in much the same way, persecute the faithful ones, swaying many people to his side in rebellion against the Lord, in one final and futile attempt to defy the Lord’s will.
Jesus, the Messiah and Saviour of all mankind, will come at the end of time, in order to bring all creation towards Himself, and make everything good once again. The devil and all his followers, and all the filths and taints of sin He will destroy and cast into the lake of eternal fire, in damnation. Jesus who had once come into this world as the Son of Man, to suffer and die for our sins, will come again at the end of time as a victorious and triumphant King.
Jesus is the Son of Man seen by Daniel in His vision, the promised One who is given dominion over all things, including over us mankind. For, ever since we have rebelled against God through our forefathers’ sins, the devil who is lord of all evil has dominion, power and authority over us. In order to free us from our bondage to the evil one, a pure and unblemished sacrifice for the purification of our sins.
That is when Jesus came, as the Son of Man, the long promised Messiah. He was prophesied by the many prophets and servants of God throughout the ages. The Lord Jesus brought forth with Him, the salvation of mankind. Jesus revealed the great plan that God had crafted for the sake of our salvation. And He too revealed the imminent coming of the kingdom of God as I had mentioned.
Why did Jesus say that the kingdom is coming soon? And why did He mention that the generation would not pass before the coming of the kingdom? That is because, the kingdom of God was ushered into the world, and to all of us, precisely by a single important moment in the history of our world. That is none other than the sacrifice, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Himself. Through this singular event, the kingdom of God appears and is present to all of us, even today.
It is through the selfless and perfect sacrifice of our Lord that we receive this new life and the hope of salvation. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, there is no hope for us mankind, but with the death and resurrection of Jesus, a new hope had dawned. That is the kingdom of God made manifest into this world. And, the Lord Himself gave freely to all of us, His own flesh and blood, just as He gave them to His disciples at the Last Supper.
Remember the words of Jesus, that all those who eat the bread that is the Body of the Lord, and drink the wine that is the Blood of the Lord, will not die but live forever. That is because the Lord Himself, in His Most Holy Presence in the bread and wine we partake, comes and dwells in each one of us. Each of us essentially become the House of the Most High God, and consequently, we are all experiencing the kingdom of God, even now, in ourselves.
Yes, brethren, for we have received the Lord in the Eucharist, and consequently, our lives too have been transformed to mirror that of the kingdom of God. We are experiencing the kingdom even as we live day by day. And that is also the reason, why even though our lives will be difficult, and challenges scattered on our path, we should not be worried. The Lord Himself guides us along the way, and we ought to follow Him all the way to the end.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why, today onwards, let us uphold our faith in Christ and proudly walk forth as the children of God, and as His disciples. Do not fear evil and his forces, and rather, let us do our best to obey the will of God. May the Lord continue to guide us, provide for us, and help us so that we will eventually reach the glory of heaven, when the Lord Jesus comes again in His glorious Second Coming. God bless us all. Amen.