Daily Readings Reflection for 11/25/09

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Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Lectionary # 505. Wed. of 34 week. Daniel
5:1-6.13-14.16-17.23-28. Daniel 3:62-67. Luke 21:12-19:

Daniel with his gift of interpreting dreams and visions does so again in
the dramatic episode of a hand appearing on a wall while writing three
Aramaic words: MENE, TEKEL, PERES. The vizier Belshazzar son of Nabonidis
not Nebuchadnezzar trembles as he listens to the wise Daniel explain the
mystery of the writing. It indicates that the Medes and Persians would
overcome Babylon and become its rulers. In fact, we learn that after all
the carousing and desecrating of the cups taken from the Temple in
Jerusalem that Belshazzar falls ill and dies that very night. The story is
more of a legend and dramatically shows the working of God in the four
young men who were first trained to be advisiors and administrators but
later punished in a burning furnace for the belief in God. They
miraculously escape and gain favor for a good number of years. The writing
of this story is about three hundred years removed from the time of the
events narrated, hence, many accretions appear within the text to edify
those who are believing in this inspired writing which takes on a special
genre that sometimes is erroneously classified as apocalyptic. The book of
Revelation is a true apocalyptic work that relies heavily on Daniel but is
best suited for studying the apocalyptic genre.

The beautiful hymn of the four young men continue throughout this week that
parallels Thanksgiving and is appropriate as a thanksgiving psalm response
similar to the TE DEUM. Praise of God is central as well as expressed in a
thanksgiving tone of appreciation for all of God’s good gifts that come
from heaven above and are created by God in all their beauty.

Returning to the selection for the day we easily catch the message that God
works through human history in mysterious ways and that salvation history
continues throughout all of the epochs of the human race even though we may
not sense it or even think about it. We need Job and the Books of Wisdom
literature to help us comprehend God’s work in human history.

The writer is clever in giving us things to ponder over like those three
words above. They have a twofold meaning here. They are part of the system
of weights which indicate the diminishment of the kingdoms that once were
so powerful. They also have meaning from the verbs to which they have a
relationship in Aramaic. Mene means numbering things or days; Tekel is
weighing them in the scales of justice; Peres is the dividing of the
kingdoms one against each other, etc. All point to the message that the
Chaldeans will soon plummet into destruction from other powers coming from
Persia and the Medes.

Our Gospel continues with Jesus presenting desciptively what will happen in
the destruction of the holy city and possibly may refer to an image of the
end times. Jesus does so in a clear manner that makes sense to us without
needing to unravel the mysterious symbolism of the Book of Daniel. In
either case we may think of the fading days of any power positioin. It is
expressed in what formerly was used while a Pope was being installed: Sic
transit gloria mundi. “So passes the glory of the world.” Amen.

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