Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to follow the Lord and to remember His providence and love, the compassion which He has shown to each and every one of us that we will be willing to open ourselves to Him, opening our hearts and minds so that we may listen to the words that our Lord and Father speak to us in the depth of our hearts and minds. Too often we have been stubborn and refused to listen to Him, and instead preferring to walk down our own path, which more often than not led us to ruin.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Daniel regarding the time when king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon built for himself a great golden statue in his own image, and ordered all of his subjects and peoples to bow down and prostrate themselves in worship of the golden statue. It was common at that time and throughout history for rulers to aggrandise themselves and even wanting to be worshipped as gods and treated as divinity. They built for themselves numerous palaces, temples and other edifices to highlight and emphasise their glory and power.
To this end, thus king Nebuchadnezzar, who had conquered the Assyrians and took over control of many realms and countries including that of Judah, glorified himself and forced his people to obey his commands. But among all the people assembled there, as we heard in that passage, only three dared to refuse to obey the king’s order. The king had ordered everyone to do as he commanded on the pain of death for those who refused to obey, and yet, Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah, known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to the king, kept strong to their faith in God and chose rather to suffer and die rather than to abandon or betray their Lord and Master.
We heard the aftermath of what happened after the king of Babylon threw the three of them into a blazing furnace that was purposefully made far hotter because the defence that the three men placed before him angered him greatly. And yet, the three men were completely unharmed by the fire, and the king and everyone present witnessed the great miracle, and saw the Angel of God that God sent to safeguard them as the mysterious fourth man present in the fire with them. The Lord protected the three of them for their faith in Him and to show Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon the futility of his hubris, pride and ego.
In the end, God rescued His faithful ones and those who pride themselves in their own power and glory were ashamed and put down. In our Gospel passage today, we have then seen yet again how the Lord once more reached out to His people and gave them His deliverance and help, in Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the world and His beloved Son. By His coming into this world, He reached out to us who have been scattered and separated from Him due to sin. He showed us the path towards Him and how we can be reconciled with Him, forgiven from our sins that had separated us from Him.
However, as we heard, many among the people refused to listen to the Lord and even took offence at the words He said when He spoke of God as His Father. They also spoke of themselves as the children of Abraham and were displeased when the Lord said that they were still not free because of their attitude and refusal to listen to His words and truth. Essentially those same people proved the Lord’s words by their own actions, their lack of faith and continued stubborn resistance in not following the Law and commandments as the Lord told them to.
All these were because they were too proud to admit that they could have been wrong, and when the Lord came before them telling the truth and calling them to change their ways, they refused to do so, thinking that they knew better how to handle things and that they could not be wrong in their way of life. Unfortunately, this attitude in fact led them even further away from the Lord, preventing them from finding their way towards Him because their hearts and minds had been closed to Him. They trusted more in their own power and strength, rather than in the Lord, in stark contrast to the three friends of Daniel, whose story we heard in our first reading today.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the Lord with renewed faith and desire to love Him from now on. Let us humble ourselves before Him and not be like those who kept their prideful ways, like the king of Babylon or the people at the time of the Lord Jesus, who refused to believe in God and His truth, and even persecuted the faithful. Instead, we should be inspired by the faith of Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah, and remain firmly strong in our faith and dedication in God from now and always. May God bless us all and be with us all, through our journey of faith in life. Amen.