34th Week in Ordinary Time
Catherine of Alexandria
Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
Glory and praise forever!
1st Reading: Dn 1:1–6, 8–20*(completed)
In the third year of Jehoiakim’s reign as king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem. The Lord delivered into his hands King Jehoiakim of Judah, and some of the vessels from the temple of God as well. These he carried off to the land of Shinar and placed in the treasure house of his god.
King Nebuchadnezzar ordered his chief eunuch Ashpenaz to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility: young men without physical defect, handsome, intelligent and wise, well-informed, quick to learn and understand, and suitable for service in the king’s palace. They were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans. They were allotted a daily portion of food and wine from the king’s table and were to be trained for three years, after which they were to enter the king’s service.
Among these were young men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
As Daniel was resolved not to make himself unclean with the king’s food or wine, he begged the chief eunuch to spare him this defilement. By the grace of God, the chief eunuch had been sympathetic to Daniel, but he was afraid of the king, and so he said, “If the king, who has allotted your food and drink, sees that you look more emaciated than the other young men of your age, he might think ill of me. It will put my life in danger to give in to your wish.”
Daniel then turned to the steward whom the chief eunuch had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test your servants for ten days. Give us only vegetables to eat and water to drink, and see how we look in comparison with the young men who eat food from the king’s table. Then treat us in accordance with what you see.”
The steward agreed and tested them for ten days, at the end of which they looked healthier and better fed than any of the young men who ate—the king’s food. So the steward continued to give them vegetables instead of the choice food and wine.
To these four youths God gave wisdom and proficiency in literature, and to Daniel the gift of interpreting visions and dreams.
At the end of the period set by the king for the youths’ training, the chief eunuch presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them and found none to equal Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. These four became members of the king’s court. In any matter of wisdom and discernment about which the king consulted, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
Gospel: Lk 21:1–4
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasure box; he also saw a poor widow dropping in two small coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all gave an offering from their plenty, but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on.”
We have contrasting characters in today’s readings. In the first reading, we are presented with four young men—Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—who are young, handsome, intelligent and wise, well-informed, quick to learn and understand, and suitable for serving the king. The King seeks them out. In the gospel, we have a woman who is poor and widowed and who hardly has a few coins to offer to God, her King. And God sees and appreciates her act.
The world has a biased preference for the young and the smart who are ready offer their services to it. But God has no such preference. He welcomes all and appreciates whatever little each one is capable of offering Him. In fact, contrary to the world, God values highly the little that the poor, the widowed, the orphan, and the stranger have to offer to Him. He does not look at the quantity of the offering, but at the quality and the depth of generosity that underlie the act.
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