WE have seen that Daniel was One of the saints of the Old Testament and Our Lord Himself appealed to his teaching (see St. Matt. xxiv. 15). Let us attempt this week a note on the interpretation of his prophecy, for all the prophetic writings of the Old Testament arc one of the bases of New Testament teaching. Apocalyptic writing is common to both Testaments. St. Matthew makes particular use of Old Testament prophecyto convert the Jews to the true Messias. St. Paul makes frequent use of it, dwelling By Charles G. Mortimer upon its hidden and mystical meaning. The Epistle to the Hebrews sets an imprimatur upon the whole subject and shows how the old is fulfilled in the new, how the scattered voices of prophecy are summed up in the Word who is Christ. Again, if we examine the language of St. John In the Apocalypse we shall see the same thread of continuity, Old Testament language — metaphors and images—reintroduced; so that despite the new and dazzling vision he receives in the Isle of Patmos, It is all one revelation; what was implicit in the old made explicit in the new.
Let us rid our minds of the modern critical idea that prophecy because miraculous is impossible. Let us at the same time beware of false interpretations of the Scriptures — the unauthorised views of the charlatan who has often brought the whole subject into contempt, or founded sects that have been condemned by the Church.
Daniel rose to fame, we are told, by the interpretation of a dream. (See Daniel, ch. Ii.) If we follow the authority of St. Augustine in treating this passage, we shall not risk indulging in any private fancies. You will observe that Daniel gives a sketch, as it were, of pagan antiquity and the rise and fall of its kingdoms. It is typical, and does not profess to be exhaustive. Many another empire rose and fell outside the purview of the prophet. But what he teaches is linked in historical significance, concerned the fortunes of his own people, and issued in the founding of the Kingdom of Christ. So he speaks of the four great kingdoms: the Babylonian; the Empire of the Medes and Persians; the Empire of Alexander the Great and his successors, of Macedonian origin; and fourthly, the Roman Empire, which embraced the whole civilised world of its day, east and west alike. Each of these kingdoms is characterised; its cruelty, rapacity, egoism, luxury, impiety—alas! we see how little the world has changed to-day! None the less, the culminating point is the establishment of the fifth kingdom, the Kingdom of Christ, which is alone imperishable—the survivor and master of earthly kingdoms. (See Daniel, ch. ii. 31foowll.). N
the Kingdom of Christ is described as a stone, cut from the mountain; hewn, as St. Augustine says, from the Kingdom of the Jews who worshipped the one true God; hewn " without hands," that is, without the operation of man, for Christ is born of a Virgin. This " stone " is destined to break all the kingdoms of the earth, and St. Augustine continues in an eloquent passage: " Saturn was ruling over many: where now is his empire? Mercury was ruling over many: where now is his empire? These were the kingdoms of the idols, the kingdoms of the demons —shattered by the stone hewn without hands."
And it is these same kingdoms, we may notice, that Satan offered to Christ at His Temptation—and he had every claim to offer them, for they were his.
St. Augustine concludes: " Christ grew, and in growing He broke all the kingdoms of the world and filled the whole face of the earth." True in fact; true in theology. for such is the meaning of the Catholic Church.
Such then is the manner and matter of prophecy; it is in a sense timeless. It is a true prophecy of the past, yes; but it applies with equal force to the present, and will apply to the end of time. We must bring the vision of Faith to the vision of Prophecy. It is not the satisfaction of an intellectual curiosity—it is the reading of the truth, the abiding truth under all the changing Continued in next column. fashions and appearances of the world. Therefore we not only hope but KNOW that this same prophecy will be fulfilled in our own day; it is the work of the prophet to give us this assurance. It is put before us in visible shape as the Feast of Christ the King.
Next week: Joel and Abdias.