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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday 34th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Dan 6:12-28): Some men rushed into the upper chamber of Daniel's home and found him praying and pleading before his God. Then they went to remind the king about the prohibition: «Did you not decree, o king, that no one is to address a petition to god or man for thirty days, except to you, o king; otherwise he shall be cast into a den of lions?». The king answered them, «The decree is absolute, irrevocable under the Mede and Persian law». To this they replied, «Daniel, the Jewish exile, has paid no attention to you, o king, or to the decree you issued; three times a day he offers his prayer». The king was deeply grieved at this news and he made up his mind to save Daniel; he worked till sunset to rescue him. But these men insisted. They said, «Keep in mind, o king, that under the Mede and Persian law every royal prohibition or decree is irrevocable».

So the king ordered Daniel to be brought and cast into the lions' den. To Daniel he said, «May your God, whom you serve so constantly, save you». To forestall any tampering, the king sealed with his own ring and the rings of the lords the stone that had been brought to block the opening of the den. Then the king returned to his palace for the night; he refused to eat and he dismissed the entertainers. Since sleep was impossible for him, the king rose very early the next morning and hastened to the lions' den. As he drew near, he cried out to Daniel sorrowfully, «O Daniel, servant of the living God, has the God whom you serve so constantly been able to save you from the lions?». Daniel answered the king: «O king, live forever! My God has sent his angel and closed the lions' mouths so that they have not hurt me. For I have been found innocent before him; neither to you have I done any harm, o king!». This gave the king great joy.

At his order Daniel was removed from the den, unhurt because he trusted in his God. The king then ordered the men who had accused Daniel, along with their children and their wives, to be cast into the lions' den. Before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Then King Darius wrote to the nations and peoples of every language, wherever they dwell on the earth: «All peace to you! I decree that throughout my royal domain the God of Daniel is to be reverenced and feared: For he is the living God, enduring forever; his Kingdom shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be without end. He is a deliverer and savior, working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, and he delivered Daniel from the lions' power».
Responsorial Psalm: Dan 3
R/. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Frost and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Ice and snow, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Nights and days, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Light and darkness, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
Versicle before the Gospel (Lk 21:28): Alleluia. Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 21,20-28): Jesus said to his disciples, «When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you must know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. Then, if you are in Judea, flee to the mountains; if you are in the city, leave it; and let those who are in the fields not return to the city. For these will be the days of its punishment and all that was announced in the Scripture will be fulfilled.

»How hard will it be for pregnant women and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and divine justice upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans until the time of the pagans is fulfilled. Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of perplexed nations when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. And at this time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. The signs of the times Now, when you see the first events, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near».

«Stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near»

Fr. Lluc TORCAL Monk of Santa Maria de Poblet (Santa Maria de Poblet, Tarragona, Spain)

Today, when reading the saint Gospel, can we afford not to ponder over the present moments, fuller every day with threats and blood shedding? «On the earth anguish of perplexed nations when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken» (Lk 21:25b-26a). The second coming of our Lord has quite often been depicted with the most terrifying images, as in this Gospel, and always under the sign of fear.

But, is it really this one, the message today's Gospel is addressing us today? Let us just look at the last sentence: «Now, when you see the first events, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near» (Lk 21:28). The core of the message of these last days of our liturgical year is not fear but hopefulness of a future deliverance, that is, the Christian complete expectancy of the fulfillment of our full life with the Lord, which our body and the world around us will also share. The events narrated in such a dramatic way just symbolically indicate the participation of the whole creation in the second coming of the Lord, as it already participated on occasion of his first arrival, specially at his Passion, when the sky darkened and the earth shook. The cosmic dimension will not be forsaken at the end of time, because it is the dimension accompanying man since he entered the Paradise.

The Christian prospect is not deceiving, because when all this will happen —the same Lord tells us— «at this time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory» (Lk 21:,27). Let's not live an anguished life because of the second coming of the Lord, because of his Parusia: let us rather ponder over the profound words of St. Augustine that, already in his day, bearing witness of those Christians fearful of the Lord's coming, was wondering: «How can the Wife be afraid of her Spouse?».

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