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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Wednesday 34th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (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».
Responsorial Psalm: Dan 3
R/. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

All you winds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Cold and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Versicle before the Gospel (Rev 2:10): Alleluia. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 21,12-19): Jesus said to his disciples, «People will lay their hands on you and persecute you; you will be delivered to the Jewish courts and put in prison, and for my sake you will be brought before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. So keep this in mind: do not worry in advance about what to answer, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. But even though you are hated by all for my name's sake, not a hair of your head will perish. Through perseverance you will possess your own selves».

«Through perseverance you will possess your own selves»

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we pay attention to this short but sharp sentence of our Lord, which sticks into our soul and makes us wonder: why perseverance is so important? why does Jesus tell us our salvation depends upon the exercise of this virtue?

Because the disciple is no more than his Master —«you will be hated by all for my name's sake» (Lk 21:17)—, and if the Lord was a sign of contradiction, we, his disciples, must necessarily be one too. The belligerents will get hold of the Kingdom of God, those who fight against the enemies of the soul, those who energetically combat, as St. Josemaria Escriva liked to say, “this most beautiful war of peace and love”, which Christian life consists of. All roses have thorns, and the way to Heaven is not without difficulties and obstacles. This is why, without the cardinal virtue of fortitude, our good intentions would turn out unfruitful. And perseverance is part of fortitude. Perseverance, concretely, drives us to the strength we need to carry our contradictions with joy.

Perseverance, in its maximum degree, is accomplished at the Cross. This is why, perseverance confers freedom by granting the possession of oneself through love. Christ's promise is indefectible: «Through perseverance you will possess your own selves!» (Lk 21:19), and this is so because what is saving us is the Cross. It is the strength of love that gives each one of us the patient and joyous acceptance of God's will, when, in a first moment, it upsets —as it happens at the Cross— our poor human will.

Only in a first moment, because afterwards, the overflowing energy of perseverance is liberated to help us understand the difficult science of the Cross. This is why, perseverance engenders patience, which goes much beyond simple resignation. Even more so. It has nothing to do with stoical attitudes. Patience decisively contributes to understand that the Cross is, well before pain, essentially love.

Our Mother in Heaven, who understood better than anyone else this saving truth, will help us understanding it too.

Monsignor José Angel Saiz Meneses (until now Bishop of Terrassa) was the first bishop who agreed to collaborate with evangeli.net. He has just been promoted as Archbishop of Seville. The comment for next Sunday ("Good Shepherd Sunday") was written precisely by Monsignor Saiz.

You can read his commentary here