Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the case of the compatriots of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were the people of Israel and Judah brought into exile by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah, bringing many of its people to exile in Babylon, where they would again live in foreign lands, as it was during the time of their slavery in Egypt.
And the suffering did not end there, as not only that they suffered material and financial difficulties, with many being slaves and servants to the Babylonians, but they also often had no right on their own, even to believe in and to worship the God that is their God, Who is the One Who have cared for them, nourished them and kept them safe as a people He had chosen and loved.
God has loved them, but they have not been faithful to Him, and they spurned His love. It was only when their cities had been destroyed, their places ransacked, their beloved ones and they themselves carted off to slavery that they repented their sins, and realised what kind of mistake they had made. They have lost their lands promised to them and to their ancestors because of their own wrongdoing.
But as long as they remained faithful to God, God would be with them, for His love for us mankind is truly great indeed, and no sinner who have committed to abandon their sins and wickedness He would turn away. He will embrace all those who have sinned, that is all of us, and returning to Him and accepting His mercy and forgiveness, God will renew with us the covenant He had made and the love and grace He had shown His faithful ones.
Today’s readings show the importance of truly being faithful to the Lord, that even amidst persecution and difficulties we encounter of having been one who kept our faith in God, and disliked and hated by the world, we can still be faithful to the Lord as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been. They, like Daniel, had been among the chief servants of Nebuchadnezzar due to their great wisdom and intellect, but like all other people and servants of the king, the will of the king is law, and to go against it warranted certain death.
They had clear choices there, either to abandon their God and surely to receive the praise of many, the favour and graces of the king, but condemning their souls to the eternal fire of hell, or to remain resolute and steadfast even in the face of suffering and death, that they remain in good graces of God and remained in His favour? They could have chosen either one, each with their own consequences, but they chose God and stayed true to their faith, and God saved them.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today is a lesson for us all that especially in this time of Lent, as we practice fasting and abstinence, there will be many temptations and things that are trying to lure us away from God and from our salvation, either through trickery or through even persuasion, violence and threat of painful death, but if we give in to this for the sake of gaining the approval of others and the world, know that it may not be very good for us in our prospect of the life that is to come.
Let us all reflect on our lives, our deeds and actions, all the things that we have done so far. Have we kept our faith in God faithfully in all things? Have we done so even though things are not favourable to us if we do so? Or have we been trying to placate the world while we want to remain faithful to our God? Or worse, if we profess ourselves to be His followers, and yet we neither believe in or act in the way favourable to our God?
May God help us to find our way to Him, and to persevere in the face of challenges and temptations that are trying to lure us away from Him. Let us all help one another to reach out to the Lord, and may all of us be blessed and remain in His favour, that one day we will be worthy of the glories of heaven. God bless us all. Amen.