Grace to you!
Daniel’s story in the bible was one of those that fascinated me as a child. I loved listening to our K-2 religious teacher turn it into a melody: Daniel the wise…. Daniel the brave… Daniel a friend of Lions….
From the Book of Daniel chapter one, we are introduced to the four persons portrayed as models for bold faith-life. They are Daniel, Hananiah, Misha-el, and Azariah, from tribe of Judah.
We learn they were among the best of the best, chosen to be at the service of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (634-562 BC) who had conquered Judah. For their training, they would need to be properly fed on the King’s menu so they would look fresh, and lack nothing of needed nutrition. They must be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually sound.
They were to be under the supervision of a “eunuch” (lets say he is a chef or steward), who must see to it they were well fed on the king’s menu. The menu included all sorts of delicious meat. Concerned that the meat may be contaminated with the Babylonian kind of rituals and worship, coupled with the fact that some of the animals may not be approved for food by their Jewish religion, the four boys asked to go vegan.
I was struck by their reasoning for choosing vegetables. They were concerned not to be spiritually contaminated. Or to put it another way, they were devoted to their faith so much so they would not like to make choices opposed to their inner yearnings, their rule of conscience and the laws of God.
One could argue about the this text. Biblical experts are engaged in that endless debate. Here, as consistent with our reflections, I see how it relates to my spiritual life and I hope yours too.
The simplicity and purity of heart informing the decision of these four boys inspire me. Their childlike confidence in the providence of God, as well as their faithfulness to the Law is encouraging.
They were able to see the connection between spiritual health and health of the body. I also sense that health begins with spiritual health. When one is at peace with God and the rule of conscience, I mean well-formed conscience, you could perceive that inner peace reflected on the body as well.
Have you ever wondered why when people are depressed, or worried about something, it shows on their face? There seems to be a relationship between inner joy and facial countenance.
If you’ve ever taken a photo when you were worried, go back and look at that photo. You will notice how your worries may have affected your countenance.
When we are at peace, it shows. When we obey the laws of nature and the Law of God, there is that inner joy and tranquility from within. People seeing us may feel that joy and peace.
From Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s story, I learn that it is not necessarily a sumptuous meal that makes one wise, happy and peaceful. I agree that good food is a necessity. However, as the Lord says, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4, NRSV). As we eat healthy for the body, we feed the soul and spirit with the food of heaven also. Such is life to the fullest.
May we be nourished by the Word of God and the Eucharist. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Week 34 A: Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20; Lk 21:1-4]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.