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Preparing for Thanksgiving

First Reading: Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28

King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his lords,
with whom he drank.
Under the influence of the wine,
he ordered the gold and silver vessels
which Nebuchadnezzar, his father,
had taken from the temple in Jerusalem,
to be brought in so that the king, his lords,
his wives and his entertainers might drink from them.
When the gold and silver vessels
taken from the house of God in Jerusalem had been brought in,
and while the king, his lords, his wives and his entertainers
were drinking wine from them,
they praised their gods of gold and silver,
bronze and iron, wood and stone.Suddenly, opposite the lampstand,
the fingers of a human hand appeared,
writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace.
When the king saw the wrist and hand that wrote, his face blanched;
his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook,
and his knees knocked.Then Daniel was brought into the presence of the king.
The king asked him, “Are you the Daniel, the Jewish exile,
whom my father, the king, brought from Judah?
I have heard that the Spirit of God is in you,
that you possess brilliant knowledge and extraordinary wisdom.
I have heard that you can interpret dreams and solve difficulties;
if you are able to read the writing and tell me what it means,
you shall be clothed in purple,
wear a gold collar about your neck,
and be third in the government of the kingdom.”Daniel answered the king:
“You may keep your gifts, or give your presents to someone else;
but the writing I will read for you, O king,
and tell you what it means.
You have rebelled against the Lord of heaven.
You had the vessels of his temple brought before you,
so that you and your nobles, your wives and your entertainers,
might drink wine from them;
and you praised the gods of silver and gold,
bronze and iron, wood and stone,
that neither see nor hear nor have intelligence.
But the God in whose hand is your life breath
and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify.
By him were the wrist and hand sent, and the writing set down.“This is the writing that was inscribed:
MENE, TEKEL, and PERES.
These words mean:
MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it;
TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting;
PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:62-67

R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.
Sun and moon, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
All you winds, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
Fire and heat, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
Cold and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Gospel: Luke 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

NAB

nov 24

I was told “you’re a temple of the Holy Spirit” pretty often as a child. It sounded glamorous in grade school, but the First Reading reminds us that the great Temple in Jerusalem was again and again raided and destroyed, sacked and robbed, defiled and burned. The Holy of Holies. The seat of priesthood. The Arc of the Covenant.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues this reminder. He wants us to know that, as living temples, we are not going to be getting off easy. Like the vessels stolen from the Temple of Jerusalem, we will be seized and misused in His name. This is a challenge for me, as I long for my life to be always pleasant. I like to think that if God really values me so much, my choices will be clear, my path straight, my bank account full, and my social life flourishing. The disciples weren’t so different—they imagined the Messiah would be a great king, freeing them, and establishing a powerful earthly throne.

Oh, no. Our reward is not in this life. Our path in this life is the struggle allows us to witness to Jesus’s great love for us. Our crosses will be our salvation. Our perseverance in His name secures our eternal reward. Our trials lead us closer to the suffering Christ.

My trials are small compared to those experienced by many of my neighbors. Living in a big city, I often encounter people who are easily overlooked. They are stooped in a doorway or in the stairs to the subway platform, and our eyes have been conditioned to slide right past them.

We are called, though, to live in solidarity with those same forgotten people and to participate in their suffering. Jesus makes clear that this suffering is our portion, too. Father Henri Nouwen wrote, “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish.” Like us, each person we encounter is a temple of the Holy Spirit. By honoring their sacredness, we also honor Jesus. These are the moments of perseverance and participation in His suffering that secure our eternal lives.

As we prepare to celebrate a day of gratitude and thanksgiving, reflect on how we can treat the poor and marginalized among us as treasured and worthy. Today, offer your preparations up for the suffering of another.

Brigid Hogan loves the view of the Washington Monument from her apartment, her standing desk, the Green Bay Packers, and a good mystery. She tolerates taking the Metro to the office, where she works as a communications consultant. You can find out more about her here.

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