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March 21st, 2018

Homily: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Homily preached at the Washington National Cathedral on March 21, 2018.
Wednesday in the 5th Week of Lent: Canticle 13; Daniel 3:14-20, 24-28; John 8: 31-42

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

We have two contrasting pictures of humanity in today’s scripture and we see God’s response clearly. In the first reading from the prophet Daniel, we find Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego confronted with a horrible death by being burned alive in a furnace if they do not renounce their faith, reject their God, and offer worship to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol.

These three companions of Daniel, they remain faithful, and even though the men who cast them into the furnace are killed by the heat in the act of throwing them into the flames, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego remain unharmed. Not just unharmed, but scripture tells us they are walking around in the blazing fire on the white-hot coals, in the company of a fourth who is apparently an angel (“…the fourth looks like a son of God”). Their reward for faithfulness was salvation by divine intervention.

We then shift to Jesus, still embroiled in the discussion begun earlier in St. John’s Gospel. It says he is speaking to Jews who believe in him, but we note that later in the passage, on a couple of different occasions, the Lord mentions they are trying to kill him – not something that “Jews who believe in him” would be doing.

St. John’s Gospel is full of ironic statements, and there are a couple of good ones in this passage. Read more...Collapse )