“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s rich food be observed by you, and according to what you see deal with your servants.” (Dan 1:12-13)
When it comes to serving God, we must be willing to go the extra mile, even deny ourselves of certain worldly “privileges” to truly give God his rightful place in our lives. In our first reading this morning, we see how Daniel, Hanahiah, Misheal and Azariah went the extra mile by denying themselves of the so-called rich food of the king as a way of giving God his rightful honour.
Their decision to abstain from the king’s food obviously seemed like punishment but in the end, they looked better fed and more nourished than the rest of the selected young men.
Dear friends, let us take some moments to reflect on those things which the world counts as enjoyment, but are clearly against the commandments of God. For instance, telling of lies to outsmart others, fornication, malice, worship of money, adultery, stealing, indecent dressing, taking of bribes, gossiping and so on.
There are so many evils today which have somehow become “normal” and “acceptable” in our society to the extent that when we do not partake of such, we are made to look inferior, outcast and alien among our peers.
Do not be moved by appearance. Don’t get carried away by those who commit sin in the name of “living life to the fullest” or “having the best of one’s youthful days.” Learn from the Daniel experience, give God His due and God will take care of you. You will enjoy greater happiness than those who think they are enjoying now.
In our Gospel passage, Jesus again pointed out the difference between appearance and reality. A woman put in two copper coins into the treasury which appeared like the smallest contribution anybody would make, yet it so happened that her offertory was the greatest among all those who gave. This is because, in comparison with what the woman had, she had given God more than anyone else.
This woman’s contribution can be likened to the act of Daniel and his colleagues. Just as they denied themselves of the king’s food, this woman denied herself of all the money she had trusting that God will provide for her. Do I have this level of trust in God? Am I willing to let go of what I have knowing that God does not disappoint those who place their trust in Him?
Secondly, this woman did not give based on what others were giving. She gave from her heart and according to her faith. Jesus took notice of her offering and was moved. Do not be so concerned about what people think, rather strive to please God by all means. God does not see things as humans do. Anyone would have laughed at this woman for giving such a small offering but in the eyes of God, it was such a huge sacrifice.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, I put my trust in you. May I never be disappointed. Amen.
Bible Study: Daniel 1:1-20, Psalm (Dan.3) and Luke 21:1-4).
Dreams, Visions, Signs and the Future
“A great God has made known to the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” (Daniel 2:45)
God still speaks to us today in so many ways and even through our dreams. (Note that it is not every dream that is a divine revelation). Sometimes, our dreams are very clear and we immediately grasp the message, but sometimes we are left dumbfounded as to the meaning of our dreams. This is one of the reasons it is highly recommended that we have a spiritual director, one with whom we can share our experiences as we journey along in life.
King Nebuchadnezzar did not understand his dream so he consulted others and to test their authenticity, he told them to tell him the contents of the dream as well. The fact that Daniel told him his exact dream and gave him an interpretation was a sign that God was speaking through Daniel.
Being able to interpret dreams correctly is truly a Divine Gift. As St. Paul teaches us in 1st Corinthians 12:28-31: “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.”
Have you discovered your own gift? Are you making use of it properly?
Coming to our Gospel passage this morning, we see Jesus talking about something that would happen in the future; the fact that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and that many false prophets would come claiming to be Christ; that there shall be wars and tumults and the reign of terrorists. Jesus tells the future just as Daniel did in interpreting the King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Dear friends, what does all this say to us? That God is so great: He knows the future.
Nevertheless, as Jesus would advise us, we should not be so concerned about the future that we forget the present. Right now, our duty is to make use of the gifts and talents God has bestowed upon us in spreading the kingdom of God so that upon His return, the Master may find us doing what He commanded; and our talents would have yielded abundant fruits.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, help me discover my gifts and use them judiciously as Daniel did. Amen.
Bible Study: Daniel 2:31-45, Psalm (Dan. 3) and Luke 21:5-11).