Tuesday, November 22, 2011

God’s Kingdom to Stand Forever

November 22, 2011

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, virgin and martyr

By Beth DeCristofaro

"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 ... In the lifetime of those (other) 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, (Daniel 2:36-37, 44-45)

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." (Luke 21:6)


Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise God all creatures here below. Praise God above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


There are many stories in Scripture of kings whose awesome dominion, strength, power and glory prove to be less and more ephemeral than expected. Daniel’s explanation to Nebuchadnezzar illuminates that God’s Kingdom is eternal not the mightiest of mortal’s.

Thomas Merton in A Book of Hours (p.45-46) has a beautiful passage about the breaking of dawn during which he imagines birds, in “a moment of awe and inexpressible innocence when the Father in perfect silence opens their eyes. They speak to Him, not in perfect song, but with an awakening question that is their dawn state… Their condition asks if it is time to ‘be’. He answers ‘Yes.’ Then one by one they wake up and become birds. … Meanwhile, the most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in its innocence asks permission to ‘be’ once again as it did on the first morning that ever was.” Merton goes on to contrast human waking: “Man’s wisdom does not succeed for we have fallen into self-mastery and cannot ask permission of anyone. We face our mornings as men of undaunted purpose. We know the time and we dictate the terms. We know what time it is.”

Having undaunted purpose and knowing the time are not, in themselves, bad things. Humans every day do good and love well. Do we always remember that these actions need to show God’s glory rather than our accomplishments? Can we imagine our own careers, identities and good work, like the statue in the king’s dream, disintegrating into nothing yet know that God’s work was accomplished in those limited moments and will go on in someone else’s efforts? Can we, in the moments of waking and silence ask permission to “be” from the one to whom all life and blessings flow?


There is a freedom in ceasing to hold up those statues we have built in our lives. We let go and then are able to hold our empty hands up in supplication, thanksgiving, petition, lament, prayer. As we enter this holiday season, in the abundance of love given to us, what can we build for someone else and then let go? An unlooked for kindness? Standing up in civil protest for the good of someone else? Giving time in a food bank? Craft a gift with a child.