Monday, 26 November 2007

Today's Readings

Yet more readings- today's, that is (Mon 26 Nov):

Luke 21: 1-4
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”

MyReflection: True love doesn't calculate- it spends lavishly. It's not the value of the gift that matters, but the generous and loving sacrifice that goes into and along with it. It's easy to give when one has a lot, but try giving one's all, especially when that 'all' is of gigantic cost to the giver. The poor widow's offering (which I bet she could use to buy food for herself) is reckless and foolish in the eyes of the world, but in Jesus' eyes (and thus God's eyes) is of immesurable value to her and others.

Daniel 1: 1-20
In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem and laid it under siege. Now the Lord delivered King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, along with some of the vessels of the temple of God. He brought them to the land of Babylonia to the temple of his god and put the vessels in the treasury of his god. The king commanded Ashpenaz, who was in charge of his court officials, to choose some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent – young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated and having keen insight, and who were capable of entering the king’s royal service – and to teach them the literature and language of the Babylonians. So the king assigned them a daily ration from his royal delicacies and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. As it turned out, among these young men were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. He therefore asked the overseer of the court officials for permission not to defile himself. Then God made the overseer of the court officials sympathetic to Daniel. But he responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? If that happened, you would endanger my life with the king!” Daniel then spoke to the warden whom the overseer of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see.” So the warden agreed to their proposal and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine from their diet and gave them a diet of vegetables instead.
Now as for these four young men, God endowed them with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom – and Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams. When the time appointed by the king arrived the overseer of the court officials brought them into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence. When the king spoke with them, he did not find among the entire group anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire.

MyRelection: How many of us, when life gets easy, start to take life easy? It's easy to turn to God and His laws when the going gets tough, but do we do so or stay so when the going gets easier? Daniel didn't. He didn't put the king's favour or his personal ambition above the laws of his God. Neither did he pretend to eat the king's food just to not offend the king or refuse totally to eat the food and thus court the king's anger. Do we often take these roads in our life? Either we break God's laws, or lie our way out of breaking God's laws, or simply get angry with whoever or whatever seems to put us in the way of breaking God's laws. None of these ways help God's plan for us and for others. What Daniel did in this reading is worth emulating- stand up for God's laws, but not in a in-your-face way.

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