Monday, 30 March 2020 : 5th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Daniel 13 : 1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62

There lived in Babylon a man named Joakim, who was married to a very beautiful God-fearing woman, Susanna, Hilkiah’s daughter, whose pious parents had trained her in the law of Moses. A very rich man and greatly respected by all the Jews, Joakim was frequently visited by the Jews in his house adjoining a garden.

That year, two elders of the people were appointed judges, in whom this word of the Lord became true, “Wickedness has come forth from Babylon, through the elders appointed judges, who were supposed to govern the people.” These men frequented Joakim’s house, and all who had legal disputes used to come to them.

After the people had left at noon, Susanna would go into her husband’s garden for a walk. The two old men began to lust for her as they watched her enter the garden every day. Forgetting the demands of justice and virtue, their lust grew all the more as they made no effort to turn their eyes to heaven.

One day, as they were waiting for an opportune time, Susanna entered the garden as usual with only two maids. She decided to bathe, for it was a hot day. Nobody else was there except the two elders watching her from where they had hidden themselves. She said to the maids, “Bring me oil and ointments, and shut the garden doors while I bathe.”

When the maids had left, the two elders hurried to her and said, “Look, the garden doors are shut and no one sees us. We desire to posses you. If you refuse to give in, we will testify that you sent your maids away for there was a young man here with you.” Susanna moaned, “Whatever I do, I am trapped. If I give in to your desire, it will be death for me; if I refuse, I will not escape your persecution. I would rather be persecuted than sin in the eyes of the Lord.”

Susanna shrieked, but the old men shouted, putting the blame on her. One of them ran and opened the garden doors. Hearing the noise in the garden, the household servants rushed in by the side entrance to see what was happening. They were taken aback when they heard the elders’ accusation, for never had anything like this been said of Susanna.

The next day a meeting was held at Joakim’s house. The two elders arrived, vindictively determined to have Susanna sentenced to death. They ordered before all the people, “Send for Susanna, Hilkiah’s daughter and Joakim’s wife.” They sent for her, and she came with her parents, children and all her relatives. Her family and all who saw her wept.

The two elders stood up and laid their hands upon her head. Completely trusting in the Lord, she raised her tearful eyes to heaven. The elders started making their accusation, “We were taking a walk in the garden when this woman came in with two maids. She ordered them to shut the garden doors and dismissed them. Then a young man came out of hiding and lay with her. We were in a corner in the garden, and we saw this crime from there.”

“We ran to them, and caught them in the act of embracing. We were unable to take hold of the man. He was too strong for us. He made a dash for the door, opened it and ran off. But we were able to seize this woman. We asked her who the young man was, but she refused to tell us. This is our statement, and we testify to its truth.”

The assembly took their word, since they were elders and judges of the people. Susanna was condemned to death. She cried aloud, “Eternal God, nothing is hidden from You; You know all things before they come to be. You know that these men have testified falsely against me. Would You let me die, though I am not guilty of all their malicious charges?”

The Lord heard her, and as she was being led to her execution, God aroused the Holy Spirit residing in a young lad named Daniel. He shouted, “I will have no part in the death of this woman!” Those present turned to him, “What did you say?” they all asked.

Standing in their midst, he said to them, “Have you become fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without due process and in the absence of clear evidence? Return to court, for those men have falsely testified against her.” Hurriedly they returned, and the elders said to Daniel, “Come and sit with us, for you also possess the gifts bestowed by God upon the elders.”

Daniel said to the people, “Separate these two men from one another and I will examine each of them.” When the two elders were separated from each other, Daniel called one of them and said, “How wicked you have grown with age. Your sins of earlier days have piled up against you, and now is the time of reckoning.”

“Remember how you have passed unjust sentences, condemning the innocent and freeing the guilty, although the Lord has said, ‘The innocent and the just should not be put to death.’ Now, if you really witnessed the crime, under what tree did you see them do it?”

The elder answered, “Under a mastic tree.” Daniel said, “Your lie will cost you your head. You will be cut in two, as soon as the Lord’s Angel receives your sentence from God.” Putting the first one aside, Daniel called the other elder and said to him, “You offspring of Canaan and not of Judah, you have long allowed yourself to be perverted by lust.”

“This is how you have dealt with the daughters of Israel, who out of fear have yielded to you. But here is a daughter of Judah who would not tolerate your wickedness. Tell me then, under what tree did you catch them committing the crime?”

The answer came, “Under an oak.” “Your lie has also cost you your head,” Daniel said. “God’s Angel waits to cut you both in two.” The whole assembly shouted and blessed God for helping those who hope in Him. They turned against the two elders who, through Daniel’s efforts, had been convicted by their own mouths. In accordance with Moses’ law, the penalty the two elders had intended to impose upon their neighbour was inflicted upon them. They were sentenced to death. Thus was the life of an innocent woman spared that day.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Daniel 13 : 41c-62

Susanna was condemned to death. She cried aloud, “Eternal God, nothing is hidden from You; You know all things before they come to be. You know that these men have testified falsely against me. Would You let me die, though I am not guilty of all their malicious charges?”

The Lord heard her, and as she was being led to her execution, God aroused the Holy Spirit residing in a young lad named Daniel. He shouted, “I will have no part in the death of this woman!” Those present turned to him, “What did you say?” they all asked.

Standing in their midst, he said to them, “Have you become fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without due process and in the absence of clear evidence? Return to court, for those men have falsely testified against her.” Hurriedly they returned, and the elders said to Daniel, “Come and sit with us, for you also possess the gifts bestowed by God upon the elders.”

Daniel said to the people, “Separate these two men from one another and I will examine each of them.” When the two elders were separated from each other, Daniel called one of them and said, “How wicked you have grown with age. Your sins of earlier days have piled up against you, and now is the time of reckoning.”

“Remember how you have passed unjust sentences, condemning the innocent and freeing the guilty, although the Lord has said, ‘The innocent and the just should not be put to death.’ Now, if you really witnessed the crime, under what tree did you see them do it?”

The elder answered, “Under a mastic tree.” Daniel said, “Your lie will cost you your head. You will be cut in two, as soon as the Lord’s Angel receives your sentence from God.” Putting the first one aside, Daniel called the other elder and said to him, “You offspring of Canaan and not of Judah, you have long allowed yourself to be perverted by lust.”

“This is how you have dealt with the daughters of Israel, who out of fear have yielded to you. But here is a daughter of Judah who would not tolerate your wickedness. Tell me then, under what tree did you catch them committing the crime?”

The answer came, “Under an oak.” “Your lie has also cost you your head,” Daniel said. “God’s Angel waits to cut you both in two.” The whole assembly shouted and blessed God for helping those who hope in Him. They turned against the two elders who, through Daniel’s efforts, had been convicted by their own mouths. In accordance with Moses’ law, the penalty the two elders had intended to impose upon their neighbour was inflicted upon them. They were sentenced to death. Thus was the life of an innocent woman spared that day.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Daniel 3 : 25, 34-43

Azariah stood up in the midst of the fire and prayed aloud : Do not abandon us forever, do not reject Your covenant for Your Name’s sake. Do not withdraw Your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, Your friend, of Isaac, Your servant, of Israel, Your holy one, to whom You promised to multiply their race as the stars of heaven and the sand on the shore of the sea.

Lord, see, we have become the least among the nations in all the world, and we are humiliated because of our sins. At this time, we no longer have a king, or prophet, or leader. We cannot offer You holocausts, sacrifices, offerings, or incense. We have no place to present to You the first-fruits of our crops, and so obtain Your favour.

But at least when we present ourselves with a contrite soul and humbled spirit may we then be acceptable to You, more than by offerings of rams and calves as holocausts, and of thousands of fat lambs. May this sacrifice of ours today obtain for us Your favour for we know that those who trust in You shall never be disappointed.

And now, we serve You with our whole heart, we fear You and we seek Your face. Do not leave us in our humiliation, but treat us according to Your kindness and Your great mercy. Free us in keeping with Your wonders, and give us the glory of Your Name, Lord.

Monday, 9 March 2020 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Frances of Rome, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Daniel 9 : 4b-10

Lord God, great and to be feared, You keep Your covenant and love for those who love You and observe Your commandments. We have sinned, we have not been just, we have been rebels, and have turned away from Your commandments and laws. We have not listened to Your servants, the prophets, who spoke in Your Name to our kings, leaders, fathers and to all the people of the land.

Lord, justice is Yours, but ours is a face full of shame, as it is to this day – we, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the whole of Israel, near and far away, in all the lands where You have dispersed us because of the infidelity we have committed against You. Ours is the shame, o Lord for we, our kings, princes, fathers, have sinned against You.

We hope for pardon and mercy from the Lord, because we have rebelled against Him. We have not listened to the voice of YHVH, our God, or followed the laws which He has given us through His servants, the prophets.

Friday, 29 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 7 : 2-14

Daniel said, “I saw the following in my vision : the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea, and four great beasts, each one different from the other, came out of the sea. The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings. As I looked at it, its wings were torn off. It was lifted up from the ground, stood up on its feet like a man, and was given a human heart.”

“The second was a beast like a bear; it was raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told : Go and devour much flesh. I went on looking and saw another beast like a leopard with four wings on its back; it had four heads and dominion was given to it.”

“I continued seeing my visions of the night and saw a terrible fourth beast. It was fearful and extraordinarily strong; it had great iron teeth; it ate, tore into pieces, and crushed underfoot whatever remained. It was different from the previous beasts and had ten horns. I was looking at the horns, when another small horn sprang among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots to make way for the new. It had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that uttered insolent words.”

“I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him. Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book.”

“But as I remembered the haughty words of the horn with human eyes and mouth, which I had seen before, this animal was killed before my eyes; and its body destroyed and cast into the fire. Dominion was taken from the other animals, though they were allowed to stay alive for a time, until the fixed time.”

“I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.”

Thursday, 28 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 6 : 12-28

So the administrators and satraps went to the king and reminded him about the prohibition, “O king, did you not publish a decree that anyone who prays or makes petition to any god or man except to you would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “Yes, and the decree stands, in accordance with Medo-Persian laws which cannot be altered or annulled.” Then they said, “But the Jewish exile Daniel pays no attention to you and to your decree. Three times a day he still prays to some God other than you.”

Greatly aggrieved at what he heard, the king decided to help Daniel. He made every effort till sundown to save him. But the men kept coming to him and insisting, “Remember, o king, that under the Medo-Persian laws every decree or prohibition issued by the king is irrevocable.” The king, therefore, could not help giving the order that Daniel be brought and thrown into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, Whom you serve faithfully, save you.”

A stone was placed at the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with that of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might remain unchanged. Then the king returned to his palace and spent a sleepless night, refusing food and entertainment. Very early next morning, he rose and hurried to the lions’ den. As he came near, he called in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the Living God, did your God, Whom you serve faithfully, save you from the lions?”

Daniel answered, “Live forever, o king! My God sent His Angel, who closed the lions’ mouths, so that they did not hurt me. God did that because I am innocent in His sight. Neither have I wronged you, o king.”

The king felt very glad and ordered Daniel released from the lions’ den. No wound was found on him, for he had trusted in his God. At the king’s order, the men who had accused Daniel were thrown into the lions’ den, together with their wives and children. No sooner had they reached the floor of the den than the lions lunged at them and tore them to pieces.

King Darius wrote to the nations, to peoples of every language, “Peace to you all! I decree that throughout my kingdom people should reverence and fear the God of Daniel. For He is the Living God, and forever He endures; His Kingdom will not be crushed, His dominion will never cease. He rescues and He delivers; He performs signs and wonders both in heaven and on earth. And He came to Daniel’s rescue saving him from the lions’ tooth and claw.”

Daniel greatly prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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

King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for his nobles; a thousand of them attended; and he drank wine with them. Under the influence of wine, he ordered that the gold and silver vessels his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem be brought in, so that he and his nobles, his wives and concubines might drink from them.

The gold and silver vessels taken from God’s Temple were brought in; and the king and his nobles, his wives and concubines drank from them. While they drank wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze and iron, of wood and stone. Suddenly a man’s fingers appeared opposite the lamp stand and wrote on the plastered wall of the king’s palace.

Watching the hand as it wrote, the king turned pale. So terrified was he that his knees knocked and his legs gave way. Daniel was brought in and questioned by the king, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father brought from Judah? I have heard that you have the spirit of the gods, that you have insight and extraordinary wisdom. I have heard that you can interpret dreams and solve problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple, wear a gold chain around your neck, and be appointed third in rank in my kingdom.”

Daniel replied, “You may keep your gifts or give them to someone else. Just the same, I will read and interpret the writing for you. You have defied the Lord of heaven. You had the vessels from His Temple brought to you, and, together with your nobles, your wives and concubines, you drank wine from them. You praised the idols made of silver and gold, of bronze, iron and stones, which neither see, nor hear, nor understand; but you never glorified God Who has power over your life and all your fortunes.”

“So He sent the hand that wrote the inscription which read MENE, TEKEL, PHARSIN. And these words mean : MENE, God has numbered the days of your reign and put an end to it; TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; PHARSIN, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”

Tuesday, 26 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 2 : 31-45

Daniel said to king Nebuchadnezzar, “In your vision you saw a statue – very large, very bright; terrible to look at. Its head was of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. As you watched, a rock cut from a mountain, but not by human hands, struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay; smashing them.”

“All at once the iron, clay, bronze, silver and gold crumbled into pieces, as fine as chaff on the threshing floor in summer. The wind swept them off and not a trace was left. But the rock that struck the statue became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.”

“That was the dream. Now the interpretation. You, o king, are king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given dominion, strength, power and glory, and into whose hand He has placed humankind, the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, making you ruler over them. You are that head of gold.”

“After you, another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise. Then a third kingdom, of bronze, will rule the whole world. Last shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; and just as iron breaks and crushes everything else, so will it break and smash all the others.”

“The partly-clay and partly-iron feet and toes mean that it will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of the iron, just as you saw iron mixed with clay. And as the toes were partly iron and partly clay, the kingdom will be partly strong and partly weak. Just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, the people will be a mixture but will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”

“In the time of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom, never to be destroyed or delivered up to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and put an end to them; and it will endure forever. This is the meaning of your vision of a rock cut from a mountain not by human hands; the rock, which struck the statue and broke into pieces the iron, bronze, clay, silver and gold. The great God has shown the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation reliable.”