Simeon Solomon: Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego
Preserved from the Burning, Fiery Furnace
Private Collection, 1863
Readings for Mass
First Reading: Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
Gospel: John 8:31-42
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (NRSV, Jn 8:31-32).”
Let us pray.
Father, so often, when we long to be free, it is freedom “from” something that we seek. As long as the Israelites understood their freedom as merely freedom from slavery in Egypt, they simply exchanged one form of slavery for another. Once across the sea into the desert they could only bemoan their condition and murmur and rebel against you, Father. Freed from their Egyptian taskmasters, they were still enslaved.
Freedom, Father, is always found in accepting your life, of being caught up in you, receiving life from you, yes, but also fully giving of self to you through the Word in Love that is the Holy Spirit. True freedom is always finally never merely freedom “from” but always freedom “for.”
The prophet Daniel tells the wonderful story of the three boys cast into the fiery furnace. They lived not for themselves, Father, but only for you. They were victorious over their fiery fate even as your Son Jesus was victorious on the cross and we can be victorious as well, in any situation however dark, if only we forget ourselves and live for you, Father, and for all of our sisters and brothers.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.