The theme of the readings is the difference between what we can know as human beings by intellect and
what we can know as disciples by enlightenment from God. We proclaim and celebrate this difference in the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. We want to know him and make him known to the world. “Hallowed be thy Name!”
Daniel 2:31-45 is introduced by the last line of yesterday’s reading: “In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to [Daniel and his companions] he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.”
As chapter two begins, the “magicians and enchanters” are asked to reveal and interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. They answer, “There is no one on earth who can do what you ask ... except the gods who do not dwell among humans.”
True enough. But Daniel’s God was accessible. He and his companions began to “implore the mercy of God in heaven in regard to this mystery.” And “during the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.” When he reported to the king, he said that did not mean “that I am wiser than any living person.” He just knew how to seek enlightenment from God.
As does every Christian disciple. We don’t need visions; all that is necessary is available to us in the word of God. If we read it. And that is what the Liturgy of the Word encourages us to do.
Luke 21:5-11: The actual interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in today’s reading is significant for us mainly because of its prophecy that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed,” because we see that as applying to the Kingdom of Christ, which is what Luke is talking about in today’s Gospel.
When Jesus heard people “speaking of how the temple was adorned with precious stones and votive offerings,” he said, “These things you see, the day will come when not one stone will be left on another; it will all be torn down.”
The logical question in reply to this would be, “Does that mean we should not be impressed by this show of wealth?” But the disciples, like people today who hear predictions of the future, were more curious about unimportant details than about the real content of Jesus’ message. Even though they called him “Teacher,” they asked him what they would ask a fortune teller: “When? What will be the sign it is going to happen?” Jesus was saying, “Don’t be misled.” He was correcting misleading appearances; warning us against earthly security; teaching us to find security in God, not giving a news forecast!
We must take care how we listen to God’s words in Scripture. “The point of the Liturgy of the Word is not merely to inform people about a message, but to bring them into communion with the God whose message is proclaimed.” Our listening should be prayer. In fact, it should be a mystical experience, first of encounter, then of enlightenment by God (Ralph Keifer, op, cit. p.118).
Initiative: Be a disciple. Seek to understand God’s mind and will and heart.