Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Daniel 7:15-27
Gospel Luke 21:34-36

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy….”

Today is the liturgical equivalent of New Year’s Eve. With the end of the Church’s liturgical year, there is a note of celebration. We look back at this concluding year of grace and give thanks to God for the gifts of life and growth in Christ.

Nonetheless, the Church’s liturgical year is never simply about the here and how. The end of each liturgical year is not simply about looking back at the previous 52 weeks. Each year looks back far into history; indeed, even back to that time “in the beginning” when God chose to act as a gracious Creator. Each year also looks forward in hope to the good things that God has promised us. It’s this looking forward in hope that the year’s end in particular focuses upon.

At first glance, the Scriptures of the Sacred Liturgy at the end of the year may not seem very hopeful. In fact, they may seem to focus on quite ominous matters. The “fourth beast” in Daniel’s vision in the First Reading illustrates this focus. Jesus in the Gospel passage seems to issue a warning about “that day”, which “will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth”. Jesus also implies, however, that His followers have good reason for hope. He encourages them to hope for “the strength to escape the tribulations… and to stand before the Son of Man.”