In our Scripture readings for today, we find some aspects of what it means to be a disciple. In our first reading from Daniel, we are introduced to Daniel and his companions, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. They are young men who have been brought to Babylon after the Babylonians conquered Israel to be of service to the Babylonian king.
Daniel and his companions show themselves to be exceptional young men. Here they are, in exile from their native land, and they still “bloom where they are planted.” (We pray that the refugees from war-torn lands will also be able to bloom where they land). They refuse the food given to them, most likely because it is unclean according to the Mosaic Law, but they flourish on vegetables. So they remain true to who they are, and in a phrase I learned in Alabama, and whose they are. God did not abandon them when they were taken from Israel.
Daniel and his companions show us that no matter where we are, God is with us, and that we can still grow in love and service, even though we may be far from what is familiar and comfortable.
In our Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus observes a poor widow putting a few cents into the Temple treasury, and remarks, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” What the widow teaches us is that we are called to give, not out of what’s extra, but of ourselves. And even though we may look at ourselves as poor, in terms of what we can offer, we are still called to give. God can use our “poverty” to connect with those who are feeling poor themselves.
As disciples, we are called to serve, wherever we are, in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves. We do so, knowing that God is with us always, giving us what we need to do His will for us.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community in Birmingham, Alabama.