Today’s prophesy of Daniel brings us to the doorstep of Advent. All is tumultuous. There is confusion and uncertainty. Kingdoms rise and fall. If you read the newspapers or on-line blogs, or listen to the 24/7 cable commentaries, you might have the impression he was an observer of current affairs. In the Gospel of Luke today, Jesus tells us bluntly that we are not excused from the tribulations of our times.
The image of Daniel that hung in my childhood home shows him peaceful in the lion’s den unharmed after King Darius was manipulated into punishing him for worshipping his God and not the gods of Babylon. Daniel was favored in the royal courts for his gift of interpreting dreams, and became a source of great envy and resentment.
Both the image of Daniel in the Lions’ Den and today’s selection from the Book of Daniel are intended to reassure us in our dark times. Ultimately oppression and persecution will be give way to the peace and unity of the Kingdom of God: "Then the kingship and dominion and majesty of all the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High, whose Kingdom shall be everlasting."
It is easy to believe that the turmoil we see in the uprisings in the Middle East, in the economies of Europe, and in the political paralysis in America will win out. Our ancestors in faith all felt this way, too. Yet, as we will begin to hear yet again starting tomorrow, the First Sunday of Advent, the Lord dwells among us and in Him is our confidence and peace.
There is something in us all that would prefer to wish away all the pain, hunger, death, war, and the constant images of humans not able to get along. But that is not the faith we share together as members of the Passionist family. Christ comes not to take away the tribulations. Christ comes to meet us in our uncertainty and confusion, in our suffering and sadness. He comes to surround us with His love so that we, like Daniel, can be at peace even while in our own lion’s den.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.