today's other readings are Daniel 3 and Lk. 21: 12-19
In yesterday's first reading we were introduced to the origins of the saying, "feet of clay". Today we are introduced to the origins of another classic phrase "the writing is on the wall".
King Belshazzar, King of Babylon and son of King Nebuchadnezzar of yesterday's reading, is holding a feast that basically has turned into a drunken orgy. In doing so, they use the vessels taken from the Temple in Jerusalem that his father had destroyed in 587 BC. At this point, God has had enough. A hand is seen by all writing on the wall. The king, terrified, has Daniel brought in to interpret and "the writing on the wall" is explained. And it is very, very bad news for Belshazzar and his nation. Babylon has not learned the lesson that all power is in the hands of the supreme Lord who controls history and the fate of every nation. Just as Israel was once delivered into exile for its own idolatry, so God rescue His chosen people by having Babylon destroyed by the Persians and allowing the benevolent King Cyrus of Persia to free the Israelites from their exile and return home to the Holy Land.
It is easy to look at the many challenges and bad news our world faces, such as Covid-19 or climate change or the countless economic issues we face and list them under the category “The writing is on the wall.” But if that is all we do, then we have given up. Jesus in our gospel encourages us to roll up our sleeves, and trust in God and the countless gifts and talents that He has bestowed upon us so as to address these issues. Yes, the writing may be on the wall, but something can be done about it.