Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial Feast: Saint Andrew Dung-Lac (1795-+1839) and Companions—Martyrs, Patron Saint of Vietnam
Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28, Psalm (Daniel 3:62, 63,64, 65, 66, 67), & Luke 21:12-19
In today's Gospel narrative, Jesus says that being a Christian is not always easy. People will put you down and may even put you to death, just for talking about Jesus—just for being Christian. However, He tells the crowd that He will give His followers the words for life so they will not be harmed, which seems slightly contradictory. He says some of you will be put to death, and in the following sentence, He says, yet 'not a hair of your head will be harmed.' However, just because they were put to death does not mean that they were harmed. They might lose this life on earth, but they would gain life everlasting.
In the Book of Daniel, King Belshazzar gets drunk and uses the holy chalices to have "drinks" with dinner, and he and his friends give blessings to the gods of gold and silver instead of to the true God. The writing was on the wall. He was not deserving of the riches of God, and his lands would be given to the people who appreciated the gifts of God and gave God thanks for them and used them wisely. The king knew better, but he did not stand up for God. He gave thanks to statues and inanimate objects. He had his life but lost his lands, and more importantly, he lost his faith.
The psalms of Daniel talk of all creation giving thanks and praise to God. Everything He has made praises Him, and people should praise Him under all conditions, even when it is difficult or dangerous. Belshazzar reverted to praising pieces of metal. In his greed and drunkenness, he denied God. In the Gospel, Jesus says it might be easier for His people to deny Him. By denying their God, they could save their lives, but if they lose their faith and lose their souls, what have they gained in saving their lives. Belshazzar kept his life, but not his soul.
Friends, there are worse things than dying for one's faith. Those who stood up for Jesus, even if they died for Him, would be born to eternal life. Consider reading about Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, whose feast day we celebrate today.
Prayer: "May we never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the word of the Cross is the power of God to us who have been saved." (Gal. 6:14, 1 Cor. 1:18)