The Cornerstone Who Builds the True Temple and Kingdom, 34th Tuesday (I), November 28, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Tuesday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass for the Faithful Departed
November 28, 2017
Dan 2:31-45, Dan 3:47-61, Lk 21:5-11

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • In this week in which we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we have a chance to think about the distinct nature of his kingdom, and how to enter his kingdom, we must allow him to destroy false allegiances to earthly notions and learn from him how to become a kingdom of priests offering sacrifices to God the Father. Today’s readings help us to do just that, examining the foundations and goals of our life by inserting us within world and salvation history.
  • In the first reading, we have the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, that none of his magicians, sorcerers, or others could interpret. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t reveal what he had seen. God had nevertheless revealed a similar dream to Daniel as well as its interpretation and so Daniel asked to be introduced into the king’s presence and properly interpreted the dream. The king saw a large and bright statue with a head of pure gold, the torso silver, the belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron and the feet partly iron and partly clay. At the end of the dream the king saw a stone that was thrown from a mountain without a hand that rendered the entire statue to dust. Daniel said that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was the gold head. He would be surpassed by the Persians (the silver torso), who themselves would be defeated by the Greeks (bronze). The Romans (iron) would come next, as strong as iron, but eventually their kingdom would have some weaknesses (feet half of clay). The stone that would come from above to pulverize the Romans would be the “stone rejected by the builders,” Christ himself, the Cornerstone. That’s what we celebrate during this week of Christ the King. Christ didn’t establish an earthly kingdom — his kingdom is not of this world — but the kingdom he did establish is the everlasting one that will know no end. But we know that there are three different spiritual interpretations of Sacred Scripture: the Christological, moral (how it relates to us and our behavior) and anagogical (how it relates to the last things). And we recognize that if we have feet of clay, no matter how strong we are in other parts of our life, everything can come down. We need to look to our foundation.
  • Similarly in the Gospel, Jesus describes how the temple itself would be destroyed such that “there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” That’s because for many Jews the Temple had become an idol. Rather than a place of true encounter with God, they, as we saw at the end of last week, had perverted it to a den of thieves. They were not willing to grasp that that Temple was provisional until Christ the true Temple, the Messiah, came. Their foundation was built on the temple rather than on the God worshipped in the Temple. We can similarly have our own religious idols that rather than bringing us to God take us away. There are Catholics who if their Church is closed, sadly stop practicing the faith, as if the Church building, rather than God himself who dwells within the Church, is really the most important thing of all. Others make the liturgy an idol, treating the most minute change of a rubric as if it’s as bad as cold-blooded murder and exalting the sign over the signified to such a degree that there are Catholics who refuse even to accept the new order of the Mass after nearly 50 years. Jesus wants to smash all our idols so that he can help us build our entire lives on a firm foundation.
  • And what is that foundation? We see it in St. Matthew’s parallel version of today’s Gospel. After he describes what will happen at the end of time he says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” He wants us to build our lives on his word as the foundation of rock — what he describes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount — that will keep us secure even when the earthquakes, wars, insurrections, famines and plagues happen. The saints, of course, are those who are exemplary for us in doing so.
  • Today we come to Mass to build ourselves anew on Christ the cornerstone. We come to allow him to make us strong not with gold, silver, bronze or iron, but with his own trust in the Father, with his own power of love, with his own body and blood, as he seeks to make us into a temple that will never be destroyed and takes us united with him to the celestial Jerusalem to rejoice with him and all the saints.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 Dn 2:31-45

Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar:
“In your vision, O king, you saw a statue,
very large and exceedingly bright,
terrifying in appearance as it stood before you.
The head of the statue was pure gold,
its chest and arms were silver,
its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron,
its feet partly iron and partly tile.
While you looked at the statue,
a stone which was hewn from a mountain
without a hand being put to it,
struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces.
The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once,
fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer,
and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace.
But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain
and filled the whole earth.“This was the dream;
the interpretation we shall also give in the king’s presence.
You, O king, are the king of kings;
to you the God of heaven
has given dominion and strength, power and glory;
men, wild beasts, and birds of the air, wherever they may dwell,
he has handed over to you, making you ruler over them all;
you are the head of gold.
Another kingdom shall take your place, inferior to yours,
then a third kingdom, of bronze,
which shall rule over the whole earth.
There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron;
it shall break in pieces and subdue all these others,
just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything else.
The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter’s tile and partly of iron,
mean that it shall be a divided kingdom,
but yet have some of the hardness of iron.
As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile,
and the toes partly iron and partly tile,
the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
The iron mixed with clay tile
means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage,
but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
In the lifetime of those kings
the God of heaven will set up a kingdom
that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people;
rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms
and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever.
That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain
without a hand being put to it,
which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold.
The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future;
this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.”

Responsorial Psalm Daniel 3:57, 58, 59, 60, 61

R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“You heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Alleluia Rv 2:10c

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 21:5-11

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”