Two are being asked to speak on behalf of their faith today. The first is Daniel, who was asked by King Belshazzar to interpret the handwriting on the wall. (You’ve heard that expression “I can read the writing on the wall” … well this is where that expression comes from.) Daniel doesn’t have good news for the king. In fact, the news is so bad that the other wise people the king called on first were either unable or unwilling to interpret it or say it out loud to the king. No one wants to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Daniel knew what he had to say and did so with courage, rejecting the king’s offer of great gifts in the process.
The second one to be asked to speak on behalf of their faith today is you. Well, us, really. In today’s Gospel, we are told very clearly that we are going to have to give testimony before both the rich and the powerful, and those who know us. We’re not going to have terribly good news to give them, well, it is Good News, but not the kind of news they are going to want to hear. We will indeed be hated for the news we must bring, but we dare not think of clever ways to couch our words or turn a phrase to avoid that hatred. The Holy Spirit will tell us what we must say when we must say it, and we are called upon to trust that.
And, really, this kind of thing is not exactly first nature to us. How often do we avoid the discussion of religion with social contacts so that we will not give offense? Witnessing to our faith with our words can be extremely difficult, so much so that we might even miss the opportunity to speak against something that is clearly wrong. Today’s readings tell us that the disciple doesn’t have that option. We must speak the truth in love, according to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, when the time arrives. That’s the only way to save our life for eternity.