Wednesday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

Today’s responsorial psalm is not actually one of the 150 Psalms.  It comes from Daniel 3, where 3 men (none of whom are Daniel) are thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship a golden  statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. (Isn’t it always so that all of history’s oppressive states and rulers have insisted that everyone fall down and worship gilded images of themselves or else be thrown to the fire?) Anyway, these three men are heaved into the flames, but God sends to them an “angel of the Lord,” or literally, a messenger, to preserve them from all harm. The trio sings a hymn of praise, part of which we heard today as our responsorial psalm.

Sun and moon, bless the Lord…
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord…
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord…
All you winds, bless the Lord…
Fire and heat, bless the Lord…
Cold and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.

King 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.”

Could this “son of God” amidst the flames actually be the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Father’s greatest messenger, or is it merely one of God’s many angelic spirits? In either case, this heaven-sent deliverer for God’s faithful ones at least symbolically points to Jesus Christ. We should not be surprised to find signs of Christ in the Old Testament.  Nor should we be surprised to see symbols of Him built into God’s creation all around us.

Consider the sun in the sky, which gives light to the world. It comes to earth, dies, and is buried, but then it rises again for us.

Consider the moon in the night, which resembles the Eucharistic host. We admire it held on high. We see it broken before us. Though consumed, it is renewed again for us.

Consider the stars, which resemble Christ’s numerous and glorious saints shining in heaven.

Consider the showers and dews, which resemble Him who humbly comes down from heaven to earth to give life to the world.

Consider the winds, which resembles Christ’s Spirit, mysteriously moving and active across the whole world.

Fire and heat, bless the Lord. Cold and chill, bless the Lord. For even in the extremes and in-between’s of life, God is to be found. Let us praise and exalt him above all forever.

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