Wednesday November 28, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28)
Gospel (St. Luke 21:12-19)
In the first reading, we hear the story about the writing on the wall which, of course, has now come down to us - even in our own common parlance we talk about the writing on the wall: "Can’t you see the writing on the wall?" Usually it implies that something has been found wanting and that you need to wake up and realize what is going on. But when we hear about what it means: that God has weighed you in the scales and found you wanting and your days have been numbered and it is going to be taken away from you and things like this, it is that which we have to understand and look at for ourselves. Daniel tells Belshazzar that the reason this is happening is because he refused to give glory to God. They worshiped the gods of gold and silver that had no intelligence, that are not alive; but the God of Heaven who gave them life and breath, Him they totally ignored. In fact, more than ignoring Him, they totally blasphemed Him. And so it is in that that the writing was there.
We should not be surprised by the fact that God would come down and write upon the wall. Many people would say, "Oh, it’s just a nice little story that was made up. How often have you seen it?" Remember, this is the same God who wrote upon tablets of stone, up on the top of Mount Sinai. It is the exact same God who also promised that He would write His law upon your hearts and in your minds. It is there - not on tablets of stone any longer but on hearts of flesh. It is right within each one of us. As Moses said, "It is not across the sea or in the sky or anyplace else that you have to say, ‘Who is going to take me there so that I can know these things?’" but rather, God is already right there, closer to you than you are to yourself. And He already has placed His law within you; His truth is already right there. That is why Our Lord can guarantee to us in the Gospel reading that when people persecute us and manhandle us we do not have to worry about what we are going to say because He will give us the words and a wisdom that our adversaries can neither contradict nor take exception to because it is already written within us. Just as Daniel was able to read these words and interpret them for the king, so too, the words of God written within each one of us will be able to be understood and interpreted. We simply need to trust. We need to pray.
But we need to look at the words that God has written within each one of us. They are words of peace; they are words of truth; they are the words of God Himself. But if we choose to reject God and serve the creature instead, if we choose to ignore the God of Heaven and choose gods that are silver and gold (I suppose in America we could say the gods of green because that is what color our money is), then we need to look at the other writing that God may put within us because we know that it is not right. In our consciences, in the depths of our hearts, we know that is not right. And so, in essence, God is giving to us another message: a message to repent, to reform, to get our lives in order. If we choose to ignore Him then He will say that we have been weighed in the scales and found wanting, that our days are numbered and we are going to lose the kingdom that God has promised to us.
It is His kingdom so we need to serve Him; we need to glorify Him. We need to be able to read the writing that is within each one of us - the writing placed there by God Himself - calling us to be His children, calling us to be obedient to His law and His will, calling us to the glory which is ours in Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.