Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the mercy, love and benevolence of God Who has heard the prayers and pleading of His people, beginning with the prayer of Azariah, and the other friends of Daniel, who have been put into a most difficult situation, and they prayed before the Lord asking for His mercy and love, and then in our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord speaking about the parable of the ungrateful servant which is related to this matter as well.
In our first reading today, as mentioned we heard of the moment when king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon sentenced the three friends of Daniel to be burnt in a great fiery cauldron that was made even hotter because they adamantly refused to worship a great golden idol that the king had built in his own image. The king demanded all of his subjects to worship the golden idol or be punished to death. Everyone obeyed the king’s commands except for the three friends of Daniel.
The king was enraged when the three of them not only refused to obey the king’s commands but reiterated and reaffirmed their faith in the Lord publicly before the king and all those who were gathered. Thus, they were condemned to death and they should have perished in the great furnace that was prepared for them and others who dared to disobey the king. But Azariah, one of the three, together with the other two friends of Daniel prayed to the Lord, showing their commitment and faith, while also showing the repentance of the people of Israel.
Through this, they represented the people of God who at that time was in exile, having lost their homeland and their Temple, their kingdom and honour. They expressed their regrets and sincere mournfulness over all of their sins. They also expressed their dedication and love for the Lord, and that they hoped their example and courage in standing up for their faith would finally move the Lord to show His mercy and forgiveness to His people.
The Lord sent His Angel to safeguard the three men, and they all miraculously survived the flame unharmed, and all those who witnessed this miracle, including that of the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, were astonished at what they had seen. Not only that the three men were unharmed, but they were released without injury and the king himself tore down the golden statue that he had built.
In the Gospel reading today, we heard of the parable of the ungrateful servant in which the Lord told His disciples about a servant who owed an immense amount of ten thousand pieces of gold to his master, who should have suffered the terrible consequence of his debt, having to lose his property and even loved ones. But the master took pity on the servant when the latter begged for mercy, and he was forgiven all of his debt, therefore becoming a person free from bondage and obligation of his debt.
Yet, as we heard, the servant was not grateful for what he had received, and instead he persecuted his own fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount of merely a hundred pieces of silver. Not only that the amount owed to him was a mere hundredth of what he used to owe the master, but as it was of silver rather than gold, this served to highlight just how much smaller that debt was in comparison to what the master had earlier on forgiven him.
That ungrateful servant was then on punished by the master for his lack of gratitude and for not forgiving his fellow servants when he himself had already been forgiven so much, and this parable together with our first reading today served to remind us all Christians that all of us are called to forgive much and to get rid of vengeance and all related things from our hearts and minds, just as we ourselves have been forgiven so much more by God.
We cannot be angry and be nasty to our fellow brothers and sisters, and we should not hold grudges and any sorts of negative feelings against our neighbours, just as the Lord Himself had willingly forgiven us from our sins when we come to Him seeking for forgiveness and mercy. This Lent, we are all challenged to be more forgiving and to be more filled with mercy and compassion in all of our actions and deeds, in everything that we say and do.
Today we can also be inspired by the examples shown by St. Frances of Rome, a mother of a family and a venerable woman who was remembered for her kindness, charity and compassion for others, especially for the poor and the less privileged. She also founded a community of Benedictine oblates who were committed to a holy life in the Lord but without professing solemn religious orders and vows. She was remembered for her care for the poor, and was generous in giving when there were others in need.
It was told that on one occasion, St. Frances’ giving so annoyed her father-in-law that he locked the supply room to prevent her from giving any more to the poor and the suffering. Yet, the same father-in-law returned the key to her when miraculously the supplies in the boxes were refilled just as St. Frances finished her prayers. And although she did encounter much difficulties during her own life, having to endure exile and devastations due to wars and plagues, St. Frances remained firm in her faith and in her charitable efforts, no matter what happened.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow the good examples set by St. Frances, and dedicate ourselves anew as Christians to be loving and more forgiving, to be more compassionate and committed in our faith and service to God, as well as to our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us all turn towards the Lord with a new conviction and desire to love Him, and do our very best to glorify Him by our actions and deeds in life. May God bless us all and may He be our guide, now and always. Amen.