I have got out of the habit of looking at the readings for the Sunday that many of my friends would be listening to back in Blighty; those from the 1962 Missal. However, for this final Sunday of the year, saying Lauds reminded me all about it. The Liturgy of the final Sunday of the liturgical year in the older Roman rite is decidedly End Times.
Here, I am just writing down my thoughts about the Gospel for today: Mat 24: 13-25. They are just thoughts, but as this Gospel passage has bothered me for years and I have finally reconciled myself to it, I thought I'd share them with you.
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the Prophet standing in the holy place; (he that readeth let him understand:) then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat.
It struck me today that the Vulgate does not say the abomination is standing in the Temple. I had assumed that Our Lord was talking about the abomination of desolation visiting the Temple. The Vulgate clearly says stantem in loco sancto (standing in the holy place). I feel this is important. Too often this passage is used to justify historical desecrations of the temple in Jerusalem or indeed the stoking the fantasies of those who currently see "abomination" in Rome. In loco sancto...... perhaps that is us... just perhaps, this is the abomination that visits the Lord's Anointed, that comes surrounded with smoke and mirrors, that we give free passage to and fail to see the corruption it visits upon us. Just perhaps we need to wise up to the abomination that is standing with us and see it for what it is.
Our Lord's advice would seem like total chaos unless this interpretation has some merit. He seems to be suggesting different things to different people, but to me what is being said is: run from your attachments, flee that which makes you feel secure. He goes on to say, that yes it will be difficult for those that have legitimate attachments to being comfortable or bringing up children or even to holiness and the keeping of the Sabbath. Yes we are to pray that our legitimate attachments are not corrupted by the abomination, because even they can be... and that ought to terrify us.
So how do we recognise the abomination at our side? Most of the time we don't and this is a good thing. Most of the time Our Lady and the Angels keep it from our sight and battle the worst of its spite that it wishes to deliver to us. And provided we keep praising God, "who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins," as it so clearly says in the first reading for today, then all is good.
But there are times when we need to wise up to the abomination's own desire to remain hidden, obscure and beguiling. There are times when the veil he chooses to surround himself with needs to be lifted.
It is not an every day sort of thing, but be ready for it and be prepared to flee, be prepared to run from every attachment of things on earth and throw yourself entirely on the mercy of God. When the abomination is revealed, all you will see is emptiness. Throw yourself to the ground in poverty of spirit and meekness of heart and then you will see Christ.... and the Angels will do the rest.
The recognition of the abomination is a grace from God. We are fools and resist grace. However this is a grace that perhaps those of us with some degree of spiritual maturity ought not to fear.
Praise God, fast and go to Confession!