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In Our Final Moments

First Reading: Daniel 7:15-27

I, Daniel, found my spirit anguished within its covering of flesh,
and I was terrified by the visions of my mind.
I approached one of those present
and asked him what all this meant in truth;
in answer, he made known to me the meaning of the things:
“These four great beasts stand for four kingdoms
which shall arise on the earth.
But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship,
to possess it forever and ever.”But I wished to make certain about the fourth beast,
so very terrible and different from the others,
devouring and crushing with its iron teeth and bronze claws,
and trampling with its feet what was left;
about the ten horns on its head, and the other one that sprang up,
before which three horns fell;
about the horn with the eyes and the mouth that spoke arrogantly,
which appeared greater than its fellows.
For, as I watched, that horn made war against the holy ones
and was victorious until the Ancient One arrived;
judgment was pronounced in favor of the holy ones of the Most High,
and the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom.

He answered me thus:

“The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth
different from all the others;
It shall devour the whole earth,
beat it down, and crush it.
The ten horns shall be ten kings
rising out of that kingdom;
another shall rise up after them,
Different from those before him,
who shall lay low three kings.
He shall speak against the Most High
and oppress the holy ones of the Most High,
thinking to change the feast days and the law.
They shall be handed over to him
for a year, two years, and a half-year.
But when the court is convened,
and his power is taken away
by final and absolute destruction,
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:
all dominions shall serve and obey him.”

Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:82-87

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“You sons of men, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“O Israel, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Gospel: Luke 21:34-36

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

NAB

nov 28

Read Daniel’s prophecy slowly. I’ll wait.

Pretty terrifying, isn’t it? Especially riveting is the fourth beast—an evil that devours and crushes and tramples with its feet. Daniel warns the people of his time. And Daniel warns us. There is an evil prowling and its intent is to beat us down and tear us apart with its iron teeth.

The end is coming.

It’s enough to stir up some serious anxiety.

On any given morning, we might awaken on our last day. How then, should we spend our minutes, our hours, the days which make up our years? We live moment-to-moment doing our Christian duty. We stay alert and aware, ever on the lookout for the next best way to love as Jesus did. We look for the little things, gather them in a bouquet every day: flowers at the altar of our Lord, made of small kindnesses offered with joy. I think we hope that the greatest thing that can happen in that last moment is we are caught in the act of love.

As I write this, I am watching someone I love live her last days. She knows—because a solemn man in a white coat has told her—that her time on earth is very short. Every moment stands in stark relief. Seize this one and then the next and then the next until . . . they are no more. And then, with a last breath, look back on a life lived.

Perhaps before I draw my final breath, a great beast will crush me between its iron teeth. Or, perhaps, I will die quietly in my sleep. Whatever the case, it is unlikely that I will be distracted by carousing and drunkenness. That’s just not my nemesis. But the anxieties of daily life? Chasing those might make me very drowsy indeed.

I’m a great chaser of worry.

What am I to do? What are you to do to prepare for that last day?

Pray.

Pray for the grace and the strength to withstand the trials of the beastly days and the ordinary ones alike. Pray like today is your last and like you are going to live forever.

photo by Edenn Yorks

Elizabeth Foss is a wife, the mother of nine, and a grandmother. She finds the cacophony of big family imperfection to be the perfect place to learn to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. You can learn more about her here

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