In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came
and laid siege to Jerusalem.
The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
and some of the vessels of the temple of God;
he carried them off to the land of Shinar,
and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god.
The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain,
to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood
and of the nobility, young men without any defect,
handsome, intelligent and wise,
quick to learn, and prudent in judgment,
such as could take their place in the king’s palace;
they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans;
after three years? training they were to enter the king’s service.
The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine
from the royal table.
Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah.
But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself
with the king’s food or wine;
so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement.
Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy
of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel,
“I am afraid of my lord the king;
it is he who allotted your food and drink.
If he sees that you look wretched
by comparison with the other young men of your age,
you will endanger my life with the king.”
Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain
had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah,
“Please test your servants for ten days.
Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men
who eat from the royal table,
and treat your servants according to what you see.”
He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days;
after ten days they looked healthier and better fed
than any of the young men who ate from the royal table.
So the steward continued to take away
the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency
in all literature and science,
and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams.
At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation,
the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar.
When the king had spoken with all of them,
none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah;
and so they entered the king’s service.
In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them,
he found them ten times better
than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
I. THEME: Firmly believe in God’s providence.
Many people think in order to be happy they must have a lots of money to buy what they like, such as: good food, expensive clothing, a beautiful house and a deluxe car; but reality shows these things didn’t bring the true happiness for them; sometimes they also threaten people’s health and safety. In opposition, there are many poor, though they live a simple life, they are healthy, happy and peaceful, because they always believe in God and His providence.
Today readings highlight the exemplars of those who completely believed in God’s providence and lived a simple life. In the first reading, the prophet Daniel reported the story of four young Jews who revered God and kept His law. They are ready to give up all of the king’s priviledges for eating and drinking in order to be loyal with God’s law and to live a simple life. With God’s protection, the king and his officers recognized they were healthy and wise more than the children who ate delicious food and drank wine. In the Gospel, Jesus recognized a widow who had put two her two copper coins in the treasury, was the one who put in more than any others because she sacrificed the money which was needed to support her life.
1/ Reading I: Among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
1.1/ The Babylon king knew the Jews were wise: Most of people recognized Jewish people are wise and courageous. Many think the reason why they have such qualities because they are God’s elected people. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, clearly knew this. When he was victorious over the Judah kingdom and took them on exile to Babylon, he thought about training of some Jewish young men to serve in his kingdom.
(1) The king’s thinking: After selected some young men from the Jewish royal and noble family to train, the Babylonian king thought he had to let them eat delicious food and drank wine, so that they would become wise and healthy people. Therefore, he commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to give them daily portion from the king’s food and wine. They must be nourished and trained in three years; after that, they must be presented before the king.
(2) Daniel’s courage: “Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s rich food, or with the wine which he drank; therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs; and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear lest my lord the king, who appointed your food and your drink, should see that you were in poorer condition than the youths who are of your own age. So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward: “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.” So he hearkened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days.”
1.2/ The result of having simple food: “So he hearkened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s rich food. So the steward took away their rich food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all letters and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.”
2/ Gospel: “She out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”
2.1/ The standard used to determine the amount of donation: can’t be based on the amount alone, but also on the amount which the donator has. For example, one gives 5,000 dollars, but the amount he has is one million, the ratio he gives is 1/200, a small amount compared to his possession. Meanwhile, a poor man gives out two pennies, but his possession is four pennies, the ratio is ½; he gives half of his possession.
Jesus was probably sit on the “the court of women” in the Temple. He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”
In the people’s eyes, most of them will give a wrong evaluation. They will love the rich’s donation and despite the poor widow’s contribution. They probably think they can’t do anything with two copper coins, it is better to throw them out than to add them up in their book keeping. But to Jesus’ keenly eyes, he warned his disciples: Don’t evaluate according to outside value, but according to inside capacity.
2.2/ Faith in God’s providence and His love: Her generous contribution demanded her to have a firm faith in God’s providence and His love. Without this faith, she would keep that amount to support her life as many would do so. She believed in God’s love that He will not let her to be hungry to death. God loves her more than beasts of the field or birds of the air.
Money is the lowest thing to give; outside of money, a Christ’s disciple must also give many more difficult gifts, such as: will, love, time, talent and health. Jesus demands his disciples: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:37-39).
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Happiness in life doesn’t depend on money, good food, or expensive clothing; but on faith in God’s love and providence.
– Richness makes us to believe in ourselves and to deny faith in God’s love and providence. Not only that, it also threatens happiness and peace of ourselves and our family.
– The purpose of our life is to show our faith in God and our love for Him. When we have opportunities, we must show Him our faith even we have to sacrifice our life.