Sunday Scripture readings, Nov. 21, 2021: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
1) Dn 7:13-14 Psalm 93:1-2, 5
2) Rv 1:5-8 Gospel: Jn 18:33-37
Who is more mysterious than the Creator of all?
During a bloody persecution of Jews around 165 B.C., a prophet named Daniel received visions showing that God was nevertheless unfolding his plans — a kind of ultimate insider’s view of where things in the world were going.
Daniel saw symbolic representations of God’s conflict with tremendous powers of evil. But the visions communicated a stunning impression of God’s sovereign power.
One vision showed someone “like a son of man” coming to God’s throne and receiving authority over the whole world. But there was no photographic clarity. It was a kind of pixelated image. The figure Daniel saw was “like” a son of man.
And who was he? Unlike “Messiah,” the term “son of man” was not a meaningful title in the biblical tradition. It was simply a way of saying “human person.”
The psalmist prayed, “May your hand be with the man on your right, with the son of man whom you made strong for yourself” — “son of man” being another way of saying “man” (Ps 80:18). So nothing was clear about the identity of this agent who was to play the key role in the accomplishment of God’s plans for humanity.
Then, about a century and a half later, the blurred picture suddenly came into focus. Jesus of Nazareth appeared in the villages of Galilee announcing that the kingdom of God was now arriving in the world.
During his ministry, many wondered about his true identity. Jesus finally made it clear just before his death. He was, indeed, the one like a son of man to whom God had given all authority (see Mk 14:62).
Jesus filled in the blank in Daniel’s vision.
And he filled in what we might think of as a greater blank — the blank in our minds concerning God.
Who is more utterly mysterious than the Creator of all, incomprehensible and inconceivable?
We can only say that he is like this or like that; yet he is always infinitely greater than and different from anything he is like. There is a whole stream of spirituality that emphasizes God’s unknowability.
But in Jesus — the son of man who is also the son of God — God shows himself. He can be seen, heard, touched and known. We can open the Gospels at any page and read, and any blank in our minds about God will be filled in with Jesus.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.