Scripture: Lectionary: 505: Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14. 16-17.23-28. Daniel
Responsorial and verses Dan. 3: 126.96.36.199.66.67. Luke: 21:12-19
Daniel continues his enthralling gifts of language, wisdom, and
interpreting of dreams and signs. In this chapter we are presented the
scene of a mysterious wrist and hand appearing on a wall where Belshazzar,
the son of Nebuchadnezzar,is celebrating with his officers and their wives.
They are desecrating the gold, silver, and copper cups that were taken from
the Temple by drinking from them. Suddenly the puzzling words MENE, TEKEL,
PERES are seen on the wall and all are frightened. Daniel is called in to
interpret them. They are what will be decided against the king and his
nation. First, the days of the kingdom are numbered (Mene); the balance
shows that the king and his courtiers are found wanting; and finally,
(Peres) the kingdom will be divided among two powerful nations of the Medes
and the Persians.
These unusual words were written in Aramaic but in such a way that only
Daniel a Hebrew could ferret out their meaning after reading down and then
across them. The literal translation of the words refer to coins: a maneh
is a shekel, then another shekel, and finally a shekel and a half. The
author thus is using a code for a play on words that are interpreted by
Our response is a continuation of chapter three from Daniel and thus ties
in with the message of the book through the canticle of the three young men
liberated by God from the flames of the furnace.
We are helped in appreciating the aims of the Book of Daniel, namely, God
frustrates the plans of the powerful and protects his servants in such
times of danger, oppression, and temptation. They are to remain faithful to
the living and everlasting God of Israel. Its consoling message shows us
there is a Divine Plan (thus God is working through and behind history in a
most salvific manner. God’s plan will eventually bring an end to the
trials of the righteous.
In turning to the Gospel we see that Jesus is preparing us as faithful
disciples to trust that we will be able to endure the sufferings and
oppression we may face from threats, wars and violence. The reading
continues what the Feast of Christ the King celebrates as God’s victorious
Son overcomes all evils and death. Amen.