Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
A love better than Life
The early chapters of the Book of Daniel from which we hear in today’s Mass relate how Daniel and his companions had been exiled to Babylonia and pressed into the king’s service. The king wanted all the various office holders in his court to worship a golden statue. For Daniel and his companions being faithful Jews such an act was unconscionable. The king restated his wish and threatened a horrible death if they refused. They knew not whether the one true God would spare their lives but they knew that He was the source of their life and was the only one worthy of worship.
Psalm 63 says, “For your love is better than life;” of this they were convinced. Earlier in the book they had arranged to maintain their religious dietary laws. Prayer and dietary disciplines fortified their faith.
While in our modern day we are not forced to worship a golden idol there are plenty of occasions we face that invite us to compromise not only our faith but also our human dignity. As we approach Palm Sunday and Holy Week, it is good to reflect on the importance of Lenten disciplines. At a time when we are bombarded with messages of indulging ourselves or those that stress exteriority for personal value, we deny ourselves. Self-denial, inherited from our Jewish brothers and sisters in practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and taught and lived by Jesus Christ, prepares us to face the challenges our culture poses to an authentic lived faith. Like Daniel and his companions, we acknowledge there is something greater than ourselves and the Cross we hold up in the week to come is the font of mercy, forgiveness of sin, and a love better than life.
Fr. Scott Carl
Vice Rector for Administration and Faculty
Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity