Today's readings can be found here.
Today's readings might be considered among the “fire and brimstone” variety that Catholics ignore and big tent revivalists revel in. There are many ways to approach these scriptures and I give you just one. Lets look from the point of view of the one who trusts in God.
The first reading, from the book of Daniel, tells us of a time of great distress with war and disaster and where wicked people suffer. In this reading, he tells us that the people who are “written in the book” shall escape. Written in the book refers to people who are chosen by God, or claimed by Him. Anyone who is baptized and confirmed is one of God's chosen. We have been marked by these sacraments as God's people.
The book of Daniel says, “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” Wisdom exists by following God and being open to the work of the Spirit in our lives. The Spirit leads us to share our faith with others. If we do this, it could be said that we are “leading the many to justice”, to the justice of the Lord. If we do, we shall be like the stars forever, shining in the heavens.
In the gospel, Jesus himself confirms the war and disaster that Daniel spoke of. Jesus also mentions the safety the Lord will bestow on those who follow Him. He says, “and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds.” His elect are, again, the people who have been chosen by God and who have chosen God back through a life of faith and the sacraments. They will be gathered for the Son of Man who will come in glory at that time.
These readings could and should be seen as a terrible, horrible time. However, people who know that God has offered them salvation, and have accepted, should trust in God through the hard times. The disaster, war, and suffering foretold in these scriptures is for people who live of this world. If we live as God's chosen people, a people set apart, then while we live in the world, we aren't of this world. If we aren't of this world, then it is easier to survive the hard times when the world seems to be falling apart. We trust in God, and know that He is there protecting us, and waiting to take us home.
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