We reflect on the Gospel lesson this morning, which clearly proclaims what we are celebrating in our feast today: Jesus is a king. “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears my voice.” We want to hear that voice today — Jesus teaching us about his kingship — but I think it will help us if we first of all try to understand more deeply the first two lessons of today.
These lessons, as you heard — one taken from the Book of Daniel and one taken from the Book of Revelation — are lessons that come from a kind of literature that we call apocalyptic. This is a special kind of literature in the scriptures. The Book of Revelation is called the Book of the Apocalypse, and in the passage from Daniel, we have a passage that is clearly what we call apocalyptic. There are other places in Daniel and the other prophets where this kind of literature is given to us.
It’s important to understand what this kind of literature is. It’s the literature of crisis, of hope, and seemingly hopeless situations. It’s the literature that provided for the chosen people and through the apocalypse that John provides for us, Jesus’ followers, a message of hope in the time of crisis and the time of despair, where everything seemed to go wrong. In the passage from Daniel, it was written at a time when the chosen people had been subdued by a king called Antiochus IV….