Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent - 2012
Well, here we are at one the usual Lenten readings that most Catholics and other Christians remember. We can imagine the scene when King Nebuchadnezzar reacts to what he considers an insult to himself. The three young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refuse to worship the golden idol that the king had made. So filled with himself, the king felt that the failure of people to bow to his golden creation, was a rejection of the king himself. He was so disturbed by the three young fellows denial that he ordered the famous fire of the Old Testament readings. Because the young men would not worship him as a god, he ordered that they be put into the intense fire and heat to see how strong their God was. We know what happened: the power of God protected them. Watching the fire to see what would happen to those being put into the fire, he saw the three walking around safely and with a fourth figure that scholars consider as a messenger of God or, perhaps, even a representation of Christ. What is the message for us?
Many people reading the story in the Book of Daniel, focus their attention on the three men. Yet, what is being taught is to be best understood by focusing on the sad situation of the people's leader, King Nebuchadnezzar. Why? Here we see an Old Testament understanding of what would happen to idol worship. The three who were fire-bound were not fearful. They trusted their Yahweh would protect them in any circumstances. The king was faced with a choice: worship of the true God or be a loser.
As we are moving quickly toward the final days of Lent, this particular reading is always a good springtime lesson. Usually many of us turn to "spring cleaning." Already the words "time to rid myself of this or that." During Lent it is time to take stock of what we may have created as "idols" in our lives, in our homes, in our closets, on our shelves, in our rooms and so forth. In our particular times one of the areas where we may have unknowingly created idols in our lives is the technical creations that abound. How many gadgets does one person actually need? A good question to ask ourselves. Do I need a department store of clothes in my closets (plural)! How powerful is "I have to have ....." in my life?