November 20, 2018
Gerhard Lohfink explains that the concept of the “Son of Man” comes from Daniel 7, where Daniel has a vision of four gigantic beasts rising from the sea. The first beast looks like a winged lion; the second is a bear with three ribs of the creature it is eating hanging from its mouth; the third is a leopard with four heads; and the fourth beast is the most fearsome, trampling everything in its path, with iron teeth and one of its horns containing human eyes. For the Israelites the sea is, of course, a place of chaos to be feared; so it is not by accident that the four beasts emerge from the sea. Each beast represents a world empire that was more bestial than the last: the Babylon, Media, Persia, and, finally, the Seleucids, with its most wicked king, King Antiochus Epiphanes IV. In absolute contrast to the beasts comes one like a human being from the clouds of heaven. He represents, not a bestial society, but a human one. He receives all dominion from God and this “empire” is a pure reflection of God’s dominion. Therefore, this society will not disappear, but will remain forever. (See Does God Need the Church? [Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999]: 178.)
This society is embodied in Jesus’ proclamation of a different kind of kingdom than the “worldly” kingdoms of power and wealth and violence. As the Preface for the Feast of Christ the King proclaims, the kingdom of Jesus is "a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace." As followers of Jesus, we pray that we will commit ourselves to embrace and live out the values of this kingdom within our families and friendships, within our neighborhoods and parishes, and within our countries and the world.