Thank you for journeying with us all this while. The liturgical year is coming to an end, and the OXYGEN team would like to invite interested writers to contribute a reflection or two for the Christmas mass readings at the end of this year. If you feel called to put the sharing of your faith into writing, please do drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
The OXYGEN team
Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, ‘You have had a vision, O king; this is what you saw: a statue, a great statue of extreme brightness, stood before you, terrible to see. The head of this statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet part iron, part earthenware. While you were gazing, a stone broke away, untouched by any hand, and struck the statue, struck its feet of iron and earthenware and shattered them. And then, iron and earthenware, bronze, silver, gold all broke into small pieces as fine as chaff on the threshing-floor in summer. The wind blew them away, leaving not a trace behind. And the stone that had struck the statue grew into a great mountain, filling the whole earth. This was the dream; now we will explain to the king what it means.
‘You, O king, king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given sovereignty, power, strength and glory – the sons of men, the beasts of the field, the birds of heaven, wherever they live, he has entrusted to your rule, making you king of them all – you are the golden head. And after you another kingdom will rise, not so great as you, and then a third, of bronze, which will rule the whole world. There will be a fourth kingdom, hard as iron, as iron that shatters and crushes all. Like iron that breaks everything to pieces, it will crush and break all the earlier kingdoms. The feet you saw, part earthenware, part iron, are a kingdom which will be split in two, but which will retain something of the strength of iron, just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together. The feet were part iron, part earthenware: the kingdom will be partly strong and partly weak. And just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together, so the two will be mixed together in the seed of man; but they will not hold together any more than iron will blend with earthenware. In the time of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not pass into the hands of another race: it will shatter and absorb all the previous kingdoms, and itself last for ever – just as you saw the stone untouched by hand break from the mountain and shatter iron, bronze, earthenware, silver and gold. The great God has shown the king what is to take place. The dream is true, the interpretation exact.’
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.’
In the time of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed
During lunch time today, a colleague of mine was relating to me a case he had encountered recently. It was a dispute between two brothers. One had taken out a suit against the other. And in the course of the dispute, the other brother suddenly passed away, from a stroke. He was just gone, the next day. Leaving his brother and a litigation suit behind. It left a mark on us, and we wondered how either must have felt as one brother’s life came to an end.
Reflecting on today’s readings the above verse struck me. It is so easy sometimes to become consumed by the hatred or resentment we may have of another person in our lives. We fight battles daily and we become consumed by our irreconcilable differences and become unrelenting in our behaviour. We find it unacceptable of the other and we find it difficult within us to just let matters go. Sometimes, we battle politics, not just at the workplace, but also at home, especially within our families. We focus on the issues in the past that affect us even till the present. We’re consumed by the problems and fire we have to fight everyday.
Yet, the most important question remains – is this how we want our lives to be left as when it finally comes to an end? Are these the things we want to remember when we gasp for our final breath?
Today’s Gospel reminds me that at the end of it all, there is a kingdom to which we belong. There is a life (beyond this one) that will go on. And the question is, when this life suddenly comes to an end, are we ready to join God in heaven, when we look at how our lives presently stand? Indeed, no one can enter heaven based on our own merit. Only Christ’s love and mercy can see us there. But are we willing to examine our lives presently and ask ourselves, when God does suddenly call us home, is this how we want our life here on earth to end?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Dear Father, we pray that you may grant us the grace and wisdom to cherish each day as if it was our last.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Father for the gift of life itself.