The Time of the End? Reflections on Daniel 12:1-3

In far too short a statement, the search for righteousness is the idea that creaturely solidarity, the conviction that all persons are made in the image of God, should be the guiding principle of our human interactions, and should lead us as well to treat all of the creations of God, plant and animal, with a similar conviction of solidarity. As I write this, Pope Francis has just concluded a weeklong visit to the U.S. In his message to a joint session of our Congress he used the word "solidarity" five or six times, a word he learned no doubt from his engagements with Latin American liberation theology. He urged our fractious Congress to make decisions under the conviction of solidarity with all people, and especially with an eye out for the poorest and weakest among us. He then proved his point by leaving the Congress in a tiny automobile with the windows down on a hot day, to share lunch with many of the homeless of Washington, D.C. Pope Francis was in fact attempting to "lead many to righteousness," as Amos, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Jeremiah, and countless others have urged us all to do for nearly three millennia.

In typical apocalyptic mystery, Daniel is urged by the heavenly messenger to "keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end" (Dan. 12:4). But in fact the cat is out of the bag already. You want to act for God? It has nothing at all to do with codes, or great mysteries, or hidden truths. We are called, in all times and places, in all of our actions, to "lead many to righteousness," and to enact righteousness ourselves in all of our actions. And we cannot wait for some future "time of the end." The time for such action is now.

11/6/2015 5:00:00 AM
John Holbert
About John Holbert
John C. Holbert is the Lois Craddock Perkins Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX.