Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened about the story of how three devout servants of God, the friends and contemporaries of the prophet Daniel, endured great suffering and difficulty in the land of Babylon, where many of God’s people had been exiled to. The king of Babylon enforced the people living in his dominion to worship a great golden statue he had built in his own image. But the three devout servants of God refused to do so.
As such, they were subjected to great persecution from the king, a fate that befell all those who refused to obey the king’s orders to worship the golden statue. They were thrown into a blazing furnace made so hot, especially because the three of them rebuked the king for his efforts to make them to worship something that is against the commandments given to them by the Lord, their God.
They stood by their faith even though they knew that by doing so, and by saying their testimony of faith, they risked a certain death. But they rather suffer a worldly death, suffering and end, rather than to save themselves in this world by obeying the king’s orders. Had they abandoned the Lord for the obedience of the king’s orders, they would have saved themselves and be happy for the rest of their earthly existence, but then, they would face the consequences of their betrayal and abandonment in hell.
The three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that God would be with them, no matter what, either at that moment, or even when they suffer and perish, their faith and commitment to God would certainly not be forgotten or ignored by God. The good and faithful God would reward them with the grace of eternal life, glory and happiness as part of their inheritance, promised to all those who keep their faith in Him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is exactly what the Lord Jesus had done, before His accusers and all those who disagreed with Him. In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus spoke of the truth to the people who heard Him, and they were incensed and angry at His rebuke for their behaviours, which were not in accordance to God and His ways. They claimed to be counted among the sons and daughters of Abraham, the descendants of Israel, and yet, they did not truly obey the laws and commandments as they should have.
Instead, even though many of them observed the many laws, rules and regulations pertaining to the Jewish customs, especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, but the Lord condemned them as hypocrites and self-serving leaders who did all that they had done, not for the right purpose or reasons, that is for the greater glory of God, but for their own desires and selfish wants.
As such, they chose worldly concerns and safety over their obligations to God, unlike what the three courageous men did in the first reading today, against the commands of the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord wanted them to know that if they continue to walk in the path of sin, then they will have no part in God’s kingdom, despite being the descendants of Abraham, to whom God had made a Covenant with.
But God made it clear to them, that those who obey the Lord will be the ones to receive God’s promise and not those who disobey the Lord. Even the Gentiles and the ones formerly dismissed by the Jewish people and its leaders as pagans and non-believers were ahead of them in the path towards God’s salvation and grace. And thus, the same will also apply to us all, if we are to be faithful and true in our dedication towards Him.
Are we able to commit ourselves to the Lord in the same manner as the three courageous servants of God in the time of the Old Testament had done? This is a calling for us to be true Christians, to devote ourselves to God’s ways, imitating the examples of our holy predecessors who have done so much in their faith towards their Lord and Master. This is what we should do, as we continue to walk down the path of faith as shown to us by Our Lord.
There will indeed be difficulties and challenges that we will face, should we choose to dedicate ourselves to God. However, it is a choice and a risk that we have to take, and which we have to endure, should we decide to follow God. Let us all carry up our crosses in life, and dedicate ourselves anew to God, our loving Lord, Master and Creator, He Who have saved us all and blessed us, His faithful ones. Amen.