Reflections

Wednesday in the 34th Week of the Year, November 24, 2021

>>> Saints Andrew Dũng-Lạc and Companions – Pray for Us!
YOU WILL BE TESTED—BUT PERSEVERE
Introduction
The message of hope of the previous days continues in today’s readings. The Syrian king oppressed the Jews and declared himself “Epiphanes,” that is, “God become visible”; God will soon judge him and his kingdom will come to an end. He appears here disguised, under the name Belshazzar. On the other hand, the persecuted Christians will bear witness to God and to his Son, Jesus Christ, by their fidelity.
Our baptism has made us witnesses of Christ. But it is not always an easy path, especially in times of great change, and even more so for missionaries. Difficulties will come from those closest to us. But we may rest assured that Christ is with us and that through his Spirit he will make us eloquent and give us the wisdom what to say and do. Do not be afraid!
 
Opening Prayer
God, our Father,
we believe that your plans for us
are for peace and courage, and not for fear.
Keep us open-eyed to the signs
of the constant coming of Jesus, your Son.
Help us to commit ourselves untiringly
to the growth of your kingdom among us
by carrying out your plans for peace and love
and for all that makes our world more
your world and the way to your home.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
1 Reading: Daniel 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.”
 
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67
R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.
 
“Sun and moon, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“Stars of heaven, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“Every shower and dew, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“All you winds, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“Fire and heat, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“Cold and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
Alleluia: Revelation 2:10c
Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: Luke 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.”
 
Commentary
If you ever wondered where the expression “the handwriting on the wall” comes from, today you will have your answer. It all goes back to King Belshazzar’s feast. After the wine had flowed much too freely and the drinking vessels were part of the plunder from the Jerusalem temple, the king sees a hand appear and begin to write on the wall. The Aramaic words were only three in number and were related to weights and monetary values. Mene. TekeL Peres. Daniel’s fame as a diviner makes him the likely choice to decode the message. Mene (to number); Tekel (to weigh), Peres (to divide). The news was not good for the king. God had numbered his days; he had been weighed on the scales and found wanting; his kingdom was about to be divided.
The mighty kingdom of Babylon was about to see its demise. Historically it was the Persians who overcame them; for the Hebrews it was the hand of God. Repeatedly in history, the story of the mighty who have fallen has been repeated. One would hope that the lesson has been learned by now. Nothing in history has a lasting character. The empires that lasted until the nineteenth century have passed from the scene.
The Gospel today throws into bold relief the One who is in command of history. Jesus today tells his followers that they will be persecuted for their belief, handed over to kings and governors, sometimes by members of their own family. They are not to worry about their defense; their wisdom will come from God. They will be saved though perseverance. In short, things may seem to be out of hand, but God is very much in control.
 
Intercessions
For the Church, that free from all paralyzing fears it may have the courage born of faith to bear witness to the demands of the Gospel, we pray:
For the leaders of the Church, that in our difficult times, they may not be men and women of fear but of trust in God, we pray:
For the prophets in our midst, sent by God to wake us up from our complacency, that we may not muzzle them but heed their call for conversion, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God,
accept this bread and this wine
as signs that we are committed
to build up your kingdom in our world.
May our attitudes and decisions in life
be those of Jesus, your Son:
to seek your dawn of love and service
rather than self-destructive selfishness,
to be constructive and creative
in giving shape to a new earth
rather than to be critical of the past.
May we thus, fully encounter you one day
in the joys of a new heaven.
Grant this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Lord God,
your Son Jesus, destroyed our death by dying
and by rising he restored our life.
By the strength of this Eucharist,
may we and the whole of humanity
grow up in Christ day after day
through the pains and tensions of all growth.
But keep alive in us the joy of a firm hope
that your dawn of justice is coming
to make us and all things new
and that Jesus will return
to make us share in his glory,
for good and for ever. Amen!
 
Blessing
Do not fear. We are in God’s hands. Trust in God. And let his Spirit live and speak and act in us, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *