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 defence 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 to be 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.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and rose in haste, asking his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Certainly, O king,” they answered. “But,” he replied, “I see four men unbound 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 that 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.
Today’s readings continue the Lenten themes of light and darkness. King Nebuchadnezzar, enraged by the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to disown God and worship his golden statue, casts them into a fiery furnace. Upon seeing that they are unharmed and accompanied by the son of God, the king begins to praise and give glory to the one true God.
Can we name our golden statues? Can we cast aside worldly attachments and reset to God? The reading challenges us to be indifferent to golden idols that lead us away from glorifying him. Sometimes consent to God’s call results in getting tossed into the flames, but God’s love is our salvation which allows us to rise above the fire of sin. King Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes were opened; he saw God in the fire and was moved to conversion. Do we see God clearly? Follow him nearly? Love him dearly each day?
—Mariette P. Baxendale, Ph.D., is the Science Department chair, member of the Ignatian Charism Committee and Active Proponent of Mission and Identity in the Classroom at De Smet Jesuit High School, St. Louis.
Help me detach from the “golden statues” of my life. Guide me to see your presence in the peaks and the valleys and all the in-betweens. Lead me to quiet my own voice to hear your call and give me the courage to respond to your invitation. Help me to fix my desires solely on wanting and choosing what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.
—Mariette P. BaxendalePlease share the Good Word with your friends!