FIRE ! … ( Canticle of the 3 Children)

This canticle which begins in Daniel 3 : 57, we find in the liturgy of the Hours and starts with ” Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord.  Praise and exult Him above all forever” .

Behind this canticle there is  ” The story.. behind the story”.  King Nebuchadnezzar , had conquered  Judah and the Lord had allowed this to happen due to their stubborn and hard hearted ways.   Children were taken as were the women to be slaves.  Daniel and his 3 companions were chosen and trained in the palace to be educated and serve the King   Although in captivity Daniel and hos companions remained faithful to God , and Daniel soon was given the gift of interpreting dreams.   Daniel correctly interpreted dreams for the Kind and so Daniel would soon gain prominence for himself and his companions.  One day Nebuchadnezzar  had a statue built and ordered that everyone when they heard the designated sounds should bow down and worship the statue, or they would be put to death.

Daniel and his companions refused to worship the statue and the King was furious and ordered that Daniel and his companions should be put into the furnace.  He ordered the furnace be heated to three times its normal size.  It was so hot that some of the men who were ordered to throw them into the furnace were consumed themselves by the fire.

Now when these companions were brought before the king, they said…

” There is no need for us to defend ourselves.  If Our God whom we serve can save us from the white hot furnace, and from your hands, May he save us !  But, even if he will not, you should know , O, King, that we will not serve your god or worship your statue which you set up “.

What a testament !  These youth who had great faith and conviction !  In the canticle the three youths are named .. Hananiah, Azariah and Mishiel.  An important side note is that when the king questioned the guard who was to throw them into the furnace, he reported that he did indeed put three of them in the fire, but he did see four people in the furnace.  The fourth person looked like an angel of the Lord.  If was because of this that the King was converted.

The Canticle goes on and lists all the different parts of creation and begs them to praise the Lord.  But what is the point of going through this entire list of creation and naming the parts of the earth and in heaven throughout all eternity ?   I think deep down Daniel must have been a Franciscan at heart.   This canticle is written with the same kind of praise and zeal with which St. Francis wrote his Canticle , singing and praising God in all of creation.

Daniel and his companions had the courage of conviction, strong in their faith, and true to themselves and God.  Not unlike the early days of Christianity , the Church is persecuted.  There are parts of the world where being a Christian is illegal, there are places where it is not safe for Christians to openly worship.  Even today there are places where people are being killed because they are Christians.  At the same time, Just like in this canticle there are people of great faith who willingly suffer for their faith and for others.

This extreme experience is not so for everyone, but it also does not mean that we can afford to be luke warm in our faith.  The need for us is to experience a daily martyrdom for our faith.  What does this mean ?  It means we die a little to ourselves each day, in how we live, who we treat others, and how we pray each day.  It is in the choices we make and in each sacrifice we offer up for love of God and our fellow man.

The praise in each stanza in this canticle lists all the different parts of creation and directs them to praise God.    Why did Daniel go through this extensive list ?  You may also wonder why he included inanimate objects in this directive.  Take, for instance, a Crucifix, a Rosary, etc, all these things are inanimate objects.   Once blessed, they take on a different character.  We use these objects to pray and give praise and glory to God.  Those things are pleasing to God.   In the other part of creation we can see the beauty of Gods handiwork.  We can get to know the Creator through the creation.  In Genesis as the world is created , we know that God created each and every thing on earth and in heaven.  On the Completion of each day, He looked out upon what he had created and pronounced it ” good”.

Each created thing has the capacity to give pleasure to God.  Like a composer who writes a symphony and hears it for the first time, offering praise to God.  The music is inanimate but the composer who offers that to God prays and the music is the prayer  and it is pleasing to God. There there are the musicians who play the music as part of their gift from God give their best to offer the music giving praise.   Then there is the audience being taken into the music and sharing in the beauty and elevated in praise.  All of these things, all these people in a concert of praise being praise to God.

The mist important part of this canticle is the fact that these 3 youths who were servants, captured slaves,  by their living out their faith daily and in this case in extreme circumstances, caused the conversion of kings, and subsequently the entire country by their example and witness.  Our world is in need of people who live their faith and who share their  faith by the example of their lives.  By living  of our faith daily, we can bring a cascade of conversions to the glory of God.




Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: