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Wednesday – Thirty-fourth Week – OT1
Readings: Dan 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28; Lk 21:12-19.
Reading 1 (Dan 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28):
King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his lords,
with whom he drank.
Under the influence of the wine,
he ordered the gold and silver vessels
which Nebuchadnezzar, his father,
had taken from the temple in Jerusalem,
to be brought in so that the king, his lords,
his wives and his entertainers might drink from them.
When the gold and silver vessels
taken from the house of God in Jerusalem had been brought in,
and while the king, his lords, his wives and his entertainers
were drinking wine from them,
they praised their gods of gold and silver,
bronze and iron, wood and stone.
Suddenly, opposite the lampstand,
the fingers of a human hand appeared,
writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace.
When the king saw the wrist and hand that wrote, his face blanched;
his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook,
and his knees knocked.
Then Daniel was brought into the presence of the king.
The king asked him, “Are you the Daniel, the Jewish exile,
whom my father, the king, brought from Judah?
I have heard that the Spirit of God is in you,
that you possess brilliant knowledge and extraordinary wisdom.
I have heard that you can interpret dreams and solve difficulties;
if you are able to read the writing and tell me what it means,
you shall be clothed in purple,
wear a gold collar about your neck,
and be third in the government of the kingdom.”
Daniel answered the king:
“You may keep your gifts, or give your presents to someone else;
but the writing I will read for you, O king,
and tell you what it means.
You have rebelled against the Lord of heaven.
You had the vessels of his temple brought before you,
so that you and your nobles, your wives and your entertainers,
might drink wine from them;
and you praised the gods of silver and gold,
bronze and iron, wood and stone,
that neither see nor hear nor have intelligence.
But the God in whose hand is your life breath
and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify.
By him were the wrist and hand sent, and the writing set down.
“This is the writing that was inscribed:
MENE, TEKEL, and PERES.
These words mean:
MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it;
TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting;
PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Gospel (Lk 21:12-19):
Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
I. THEME: All people must obey God’s authority.
Many people think when they have power, they can do anything they want, even to condemn and to kill others; but the reality shows their power is not absolute. All power come from God, He bestows it on people and He could take it away any time. People must be responsible before God for their abusing of power. Moreover, peace and happiness are only for those who revere and obey God’s authority.
Today readings highlight this truth: all power in the cosmos belong to God. In the first reading, king Belshazzar thought he could do anything he wanted. Daniel explained to him that all powers come from God. He gives and takes it away anytime. The fact that the king saw a finger that wrote the words, shows it is the time God will take away the king’s power to give to another king who knows how to use His power. In the Gospel, Jesus warned his disciples that suffering will certainly happen to them and encouraged them to be persevered, since it is the opportunity for them to show their faith and love in God. If they persevere in suffering to witness for God, He will bestow on them the eternal life and abundantly reward them.
1/ Reading I: The God in whose hand is your breath, you have not honored Him.
1.1/ King Belshazzar committed sacrilege: When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he took all the golden and silver vessels from the Temple to store in his storage. When he passed away, his son Belshazzar continued his throne. He made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. When he tasted the wine, he commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver which his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. They brought in the golden and silver vessels which had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Immediately, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand; and the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.
1.2/ King Belshazzar found the one who could explain the meaning of the words which were written on the plaster of the wall: Like his father, the king gathered all the wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers in his kingdom to interpret his vision; but none could do it until they brought in Daniel, the Jewish officer.
(1) Daniel didn’t care about the rewards of the king’s promise: When Daniel entered, the king promised to him: “Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple, and have a chain of gold about your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” But Daniel answered the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation.”
(2) Daniel explained the meaning of the sentence: He told the king: “You have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven; and the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.”
God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. This is the writing that was inscribed by the fingers: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the matter:
– MENE means “to count.” God has counted and ended the days of your kingdom.
– TEKEL means “to weight.” You have been weighted and found not enough.
– PERES means “to divide.” Your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
2/ Gospel: By your endurance you will gain your lives.
2.1/ Endure suffering to witness for God: Jesus warned his disciples about suffering which is about to happen to them: “But before all this, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony.” Jesus clearly declared: suffering is the precious opportunity for his disciples to be witnesses for him; avoiding suffering is losing an opportunity to be Jesus’ witness.
2.2/ The disciples shouldn’t be worried about how to face persecution: Jesus’ disciples must know that they aren’t fighting alone, but he is fighting with them. Jesus promised: “Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” When they know they have a much greater power than earthy powers assist, they shouldn’t be afraid but should have confidence to fight back. St. Paul had this kind of experience when he declared: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
2.3/ Jesus guaranteed that they will be victorious: There is no worldly power which can overcome God’s power. The worldly power is just temporal since God allowed it; but when He decides to take it back, no one can oppose Him. Jesus guaranteed this to his disciples, though they still have to fight: “But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God is the Lord of all powers and authorities in this world. He bestows them on human beings, and He can take away any time. Our duty is to use them in order to benefit God and His people.
– Suffering is needed in our life to purify us, to make a difference between a hero and a base man, especially to show our faith and love in God. When we are facing persecution, we aren’t fighting alone, Jesus is fighting with us. Wisdom and strength needed to fight come from Christ.
– Jesus assured us that victory will be ours since hair in our head have been counted. If we already knew all these in advance, what else are we waiting for and not ready to fight for him.