First Reading for the Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

Summary: When threatened by King Nebuchadnezzar for not worshiping his idol, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego affirmed their loyalty to God, willing to face a fiery furnace rather than compromise their faith. Miraculously, they were unharmed by the flames, accompanied by a divine figure, demonstrating God's power to save those who trust in Him.

Faithful Amidst Flames

King Nebuchadnezzar said: “”Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments; otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?””

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “”There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up.””

King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, “”Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?””

“”Assuredly, O king,”” they answered.

“”But,”” he replied, “”I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”” Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “”Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.””

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