Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Daniel 1:1-6.8-20, Luke 21:1-4)
Your doctor would not be surprised at all with the outcome of Daniel’s vegetarian diet. She will tell you to consume less red meat, more vegetables, no alcohol and lots of water. But the author’s intention in the Book of Daniel can hardly be dietary advice. Quite certainly he means to give moral counsel. He is telling his fellow Jews not to disregard the Law. Rather they are to follow its every precept. As in the case here, their adhesion to the Law will bring about the good.
The Book of Daniel was written in the second century before Christ. As the first reading for the last week has testified, Jews were then being terribly persecuted. Foreign kings wanted to impose their beliefs and customs on the people. The Jews resisted and ultimately prevailed to establish home rule. Unfortunately that too proved to be seriously defective.
Religious persecution is threatening citizens in western societies today. People are not being forced to eat forbidden foods but to violate their consciences in other ways. Should a Catholic doctor refer a patient to a surgeon who will perform a desired abortion? Should a priest “marry” a homosexual couple? Should a Catholic school treat as a girl a “transgendered” male child? These kinds of questions may soon cause faith-filled people to be prosecuted. They will hopefully take courage from these mass readings.