Last week we heard several stories from the Book of Maccabees that highlighted the faithfulness of the people living under the oppressive reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. Rather than eat food proscribed by the Jewish dietary laws, they sacrificed their lives.
Today we begin reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel. He and his fellow exiles lived under the oppressive regime of King Nebuchadnezzar. That oppression once again finds people choosing to refuse to eat foods forbidden them by the ritual laws of Leviticus. Though they were saved from death by God's intervention, they too were willing to sacrifice their lives for this principle.
While it may seem that going to such lengths for the sake of dietary laws is a little extreme, the lesson that comes to us through the examples set by these people is the lesson of fidelity or faithfulness. These men and women are held up to us as examples to follow. While the issue of dietary laws may seem trivial, the faithfulness they exhibit is anything but.
Think of how much we depend upon the faithfulness of others. We depend upon doctors and nurses to care for the sick. We depend upon our teachers to instruct our children while protecting them from harm. We depend upon postal workers to deliver the mail. We depend upon the police to serve and protect. Indeed, we even depend upon restaurant workers, retail clerks, construction workers, crossing guards, billing clerks, and a host of other seemingly prosaic workers to faithfully execute their responsibilities. Without these people faithfully doing their jobs, our society would come to a skidding stop.
Each of us is called to be faithful. Each of us has a role to play. As we go about our business today, the example of Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael stands before us and urges us to complete our tasks and to serve one another and God faithfully.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator