Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and you do not worship the golden statue that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire.
Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Assuredly, O king,” they answered. “But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.” Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship any false idol out of faithfulness to their one true God. Their faithfulness to Yahweh is unconditional. It does not even depend on their own earthly salvation. That is as full and complete as faithfulness can get. King Nebuchadnezzar tries to call them to false worship with the sounds of horns, pipes, lyres, trigons, harps, drums. They refuse to allow these sounds to distract them from their true call to faithfulness to the one true God.
What are the things in our own lives that attempt to call us to idolatry? Computer screens? Television commercials? Social media alerts and notifications? Bank accounts? Material belongings? What are the things in our lives that give us the true call to walk faithfully with the Son of God even through the flames of persecution? What can we dedicate our lives to which even the furnace of blazing fire cannot make perish?
—Tom Weiler is a teacher in the department of Religious Studies and the moderator of Club Vinyl at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.
O God, give me the courage and strength to be worthy of being called a Christian.
—Karl Rahner, SJ
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