Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Daniel 3: 14-20, 91-92, 95
John: 8: 31-42
Today we hear that wonderful story of the three brothers, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to worship a foreign god, even when directly confronted by the all powerful King Nebuchadnezzar. Their refusal to bend to the King’s command earned them a death sentence by fire. God directly intervened and protected them from the fires of the furnace. When he saw them walking around unharmed in the blazing furnace, King Nebuchadnezzar had a profound change of heart and not only freed them but also came to believe in the God of Israel.
In the Gospel we find Jesus debating with Jews, trying to help them understand who He was and accept his mission. Jesus wanted them to know that becoming his disciple was a path to true freedom and an unbreakable relationship with God. Because of God’s faithful care for them in the past, they find it very hard to recognize the truth of Jesus teaching. They rebel and many walk away.
The contrast between King Nebuchadnezzar’s change of heart and the Jews hardness of heart is striking. It’s almost as if the fact that the people of Israel had received so much already through Moses, their scriptures and traditions, that they were blinded to the fullness of the revelation of Jesus. I wonder if that doesn’t sometimes happen to us. We have already received so many blessings in our lives that we are afraid to risk recognizing Jesus in our midst right now. Clearly, today’s readings invite us to both cherish the relationship we already have with God and to keep alert to God’s call to me today to recognize him active and present in our world.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of the Development Office for Holy Cross Province and is stationed at Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago.