Serve to be served? Wednesday, 5th Week in in Lent – Daniel 3:14-20, 24/91-25/95 – John 8:31-42

We always admire young people who live and profess their faith. Several saints died for the Lord but many more lived for him.  While we rightly glorify martyrs who died for the faith, we must also admire those who lived the faith, for as someone said, “It is easier to die for the Lord than to live for him.”

The reading from the book of Daniel tells of three young Jewish exiles who were brought into the Babylonian court. They, like Daniel, after whom this book is named, lived exemplary lives of faith even in the court of a pagan king. Chapter 2:49 tells us that the three young men were appointed by the King himself, over the “affairs of the province of Babylon.”

Now King Nebuchadnezzar builds a golden statue and demands that it be worshipped. The three young men refuse and are reported to the king. They are threatened with death in a fiery furnace. What happens next is the stuff of heroes.

Today’s teaching is presented in a series of six reflections. Reflect on the ones that you need to build your faith on and not the ones that you think apply to someone else you know.

  1. The young men refuse to allow a bully to get to them and even more the fear of death to get to them. Bullies are to be found in varying age groups; from the playground to the halls of political power. Bullies thrive on creating a sense of fear. They may indeed beat you to the ground physically or break you down in their prisons but even a bully knows that while they can kill the body, they can never kill the soul. Nebuchadnezzar was a bully who thought that his superpower status would scare three Jewish youths into submission.
  2. The three young men refused to apostasy. That’s a big word for quitting on God for other gods. People apostasy under fear and duress but even worse to please people. In our day, there is no dearth of people who bow down before any god with fervour to win favour. If you can’t obey the first commandment, how will you get to the tenth? I AM the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me. God is a living God, the great I AM, not an ‘I was’ or ‘I will be’. He is to be worshipped exclusively and if you can’t fall in line then quit the fold.
  3. The three young Jewish men teach us another valuable lesson in answering the dictator that Nebuchadnezzar was (you can add your dictator here). Their love for God was governed by a deeply spiritual principle, ‘the God we serve does not need to serve us.” For most of us, our relationship with God is a quid pro quo. You have to scratch my back Lord, I scratched yours! The young men are emphatic, “If our God, the one we serve, is able to save us; he will save us and even if he does not, then you must know that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have erected.’ Have you made God your spiritual grocer?
  4. These were the young men that Nebuchadnezzar had appointed over the affairs of Babylon. This was no small post in arguably the biggest superpower in the world at that time. They found favour in the king and he let his favour rest on them. Now that they have stood up for their beliefs his “expression was very different.” Sadly, people love us not for who we are but for the fact that are agreeable to their thoughts and views. We too strive for human approval by submitting to that which is immoral and, in the process, lose divine favour.
  5. God came through for the three young men. In the history of salvation, many young women and men have died in their fiery furnaces, at the gallows, in prisons, in the arenas of Rome and in prisons in Mumbai….We remember the blood of the martyrs (Fr Stan Swamy) whose blood is both the seeds of Christianity and the fertilizer for the faith.
  6. Finally, the pagan king blesses the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Our WITNESS makes the world bow down to Christ, not our cowardice. Will we suffer martyrdom? the answer is an emphatic yes! Ironically, the Cardinals of the world wear red not as a princely colour (they were and some still refer to them as princes of the Church) but rather as a reminder that they are the first to shed their BLOOD for the Church. It is time we throw political correctness into the garbage where it belongs and profess like St Peter, our unworthiness to be put to death like Our Lord.


Leave your reflections in the comments below. I am sure you have thoughts of your own that are inspired by the divine.

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