Homilette for Tuesday, November 24, 2009

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and companions, martyrs

(Daniel 2:31-45; Luke 21:5-11)

Scholars claim that Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is not entirely accurate. Although there has been disagreement in the past about which empires the different parts of the statue’s body represent, today experts are convinced that the golden head is the empire of the Assyrian-Babylonians; the silver upper body, that of the Medes; the bronze lower body, the Persian Empire; and the iron and tile feet, Alexander’s Greek domain. The historical mistake in Daniel’s interpretation would be that the Persians, not the Medes, conquered Babylon.

Most likely the writer of the Book of the Prophet Daniel was using the popular Jewish understanding of events when he wrote in the second century before Christ. Obviously, this writer was not the prophet who lived in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, four centuries earlier. He was an interpreter of history seeing the great empires leading up to the recreation of Israel’s monarchy. This was “the stone hewn from the mountain...which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold.”

Christians have taken Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as realized in Jesus. He inaugurated another kind of kingdom that, we believe, will be eternal. It is a kingdom unlike all others because it does not claim rule over land nor does it tax people’s pocketbooks. Rather, it moves us interiorly to love God above all and neighbors as ourselves. We might add that it is the Kingdom for which St. Lung Dung-Lac and the other Vietnamese martyrs gave their lives.