Archive for the ‘Daniel’ Category

Wednesday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

November 25, 2009

Today’s responsorial psalm is not actually one of the 150 Psalms.  It comes from Daniel 3, where 3 men (none of whom are Daniel) are thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship a golden  statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. (Isn’t it always so that all of history’s oppressive states and rulers have insisted that everyone fall down and worship gilded images of themselves or else be thrown to the fire?) Anyway, these three men are heaved into the flames, but God sends to them an “angel of the Lord,” or literally, a messenger, to preserve them from all harm. The trio sings a hymn of praise, part of which we heard today as our responsorial psalm.

Sun and moon, bless the Lord…
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord…
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord…
All you winds, bless the Lord…
Fire and heat, bless the Lord…
Cold and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.

King Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Assuredly, O king,” they answered. “But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”

Could this “son of God” amidst the flames actually be the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Father’s greatest messenger, or is it merely one of God’s many angelic spirits? In either case, this heaven-sent deliverer for God’s faithful ones at least symbolically points to Jesus Christ. We should not be surprised to find signs of Christ in the Old Testament.  Nor should we be surprised to see symbols of Him built into God’s creation all around us.

Consider the sun in the sky, which gives light to the world. It comes to earth, dies, and is buried, but then it rises again for us.

Consider the moon in the night, which resembles the Eucharistic host. We admire it held on high. We see it broken before us. Though consumed, it is renewed again for us.

Consider the stars, which resemble Christ’s numerous and glorious saints shining in heaven.

Consider the showers and dews, which resemble Him who humbly comes down from heaven to earth to give life to the world.

Consider the winds, which resembles Christ’s Spirit, mysteriously moving and active across the whole world.

Fire and heat, bless the Lord. Cold and chill, bless the Lord. For even in the extremes and in-between’s of life, God is to be found. Let us praise and exalt him above all forever.

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Tuesday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

November 25, 2009

The prophets go beyond what is seen, to reveal what is hidden. Their purpose is to lead people to God.

In the first reading, Daniel reveals what was seen in the king’s dream. In the Gospel, Jesus reveals what will be seen in Jerusalem and at the end of this world as it no stands. In this homily, I will reveal to you three prayers hidden within the Mass which are always present there, but which you may have never heard before.

The first of these hidden prayers comes after the presentation of the gifts. A few of the faithful bring forth the bread and wine to the altar. It is no empty chore. This symbolizes the offering of all your gifts and of your whole lives to God.

I receive the gifts and then I say a prayer of praise to the God of all creation for this bread which we have to offer. Yet before I go on to a similar prayer with the cup of wine you may have noticed something unusual. The priest takes the water and pours a little into the cup of wine. It’s only a few drops, and the wine appears unchanged, but the water and wine have become inseparably one. As he pours, the priests silently prays this:

“By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

You and I will always be God’s finite creatures, but, by the Incarnation, Jesus has made Himself inseparably one with our humanity. It is Jesus’ desire to make us more and more like His divine self through our personal union with Him.

What is the lesson for us here at Mass? We should come to each Mass with high expectations. Do you believe that your whole-hearted participation in this sacrament can make you a better, more beautiful, or more admirable person, and do powerful things for our world? Approach this sacrifice with high expectations. On this point St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux agree: “We receive from God as much as we hope for.”

After these prayers for the bread and wine, you will see me bow at the altar. At this moment comes the second hidden prayer. The priest prays:

“Lord God, we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you with humble and contrite hearts.”

What is the lesson for us here at Mass? We should strive to be fully-present at every Mass. Pray the Mass and sing the songs with your whole heart. Offer God this sacrifice with humility, contrition, gratitude and love.

After this comes the washing of the hands and a third silent prayer. The priest prays:

“Lord, wash me of my iniquity; cleanse me from my sin.”

I pray this prayer from particularly from the heart because I do not want my offering and partaking of this most holy sacrament to be the cause of my condemnation and death on account of my sins. (If you think of it, pray for your priest as he washes his hands, that He may offer this sacrifice well for you.) Approaching our all-holy God is serious stuff.

What is the lesson for us here at Mass? If you are aware of serious sins on your soul, come to  confession, the sacrament of reconciliation. Come and be cleansed. Lighten your burden. Do it today.

The prophets go beyond what is seen, to reveal what is hidden. Their purpose is to lead people to God. Through the revealing of these holy prayers I pray you be led to closer to our Lord Jesus Christ at this very Mass.