Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and King Nebuchadnezzar – I think I will remember these names forever. They appear in today’s first reading.
I think back to 1999, shortly after I returned to church after many years of not going. I had the opportunity to attend Mass on Wednesdays during Lent. I was going to be the Altar Server. Literally, about a minute before Mass we realized the Lector had not shown up. I quickly glanced at the readings and realized I was in trouble. The names Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and King Nebuchadnezzar were throughout the first reading (which is today’s first reading) and I had no idea how to pronounce them.
I quickly asked the pastor how to pronounce the names but it was too late to have a chance to learn them. I think I pronounced the names different each time. This reading remains in my mind to this day.
It is a good reading to remember because we hear in it how absolute Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith was to them. In the reading we hear,
If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up.
There was no way they were going to abandon their faith, even at the cost of their earthly life.
It leads us to ask ourselves ‘do we hold to our faith?’ In today’s gospel, Jesus calls all to “remain in his word”. Do we? Or do we hide his word? Do we follow his word? Do we even know his Word? When challenged do we live and speak our faith or do we claim up to avoid confrontation or to save our lives? Let us pray that we follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and have the courage to always follow God’s way, remaining in Jesus’ Word.