27 November 2017
Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched on Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hands, with some of the furnishings of the Temple of God. He took them away to the land of Shinar, and stored the sacred vessels in the treasury of his own gods.
The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to select from the Israelites a certain number of boys of either royal or noble descent; they had to be without any physical defect, of good appearance, trained in every kind of wisdom, well-informed, quick at learning, suitable for service in the palace of the king. Ashpenaz himself was to teach them the language and literature of the Chaldaeans. The king assigned them a daily allowance of food and wine from his own royal table. They were to receive an education lasting for three years, after which they were expected to be fit for the king’s society. Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who were Judaeans. Daniel, who was most anxious not to defile himself with the food and wine from the royal table, begged the chief eunuch to spare him this defilement; and by the grace of God Daniel met goodwill and sympathy on the part of the chief eunuch. But he warned Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king: he has assigned you food and drink, and if he sees you looking thinner in the face than the other boys of your age, my head will be in danger with the king because of you.’ At this Daniel turned to the guard whom the chief eunuch had assigned to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He said, ‘Please allow your servants a ten days’ trial, during which we are given only vegetables to eat and water to drink. You can then compare our looks with those of the boys who eat the king’s food; go by what you see, and treat your servants accordingly.’ The man agreed to do what they asked and put them on ten days’ trial. When the ten days were over they looked and were in better health than any of the boys who had eaten their allowance from the royal table; so the guard withdrew their allowance of food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. And God favoured these four boys with knowledge and intelligence in everything connected with literature, and in wisdom; while Daniel had the gift of interpreting every kind of vision and dream. When the period stipulated by the king for the boys’ training was over, the chief eunuch presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king conversed with them, and among all the boys found none to equal Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So they became members of the king’s court, and on whatever point of wisdom or information he might question them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.
As Jesus looked up, he saw rich people putting their offerings into the treasury; then he happened to notice a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins, and he said, ‘I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in more than any of them; for these have all contributed money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in all she had to live on.’
“…she has put in all she had to live on.”
I was privileged to have been part of a Christ@Work conference last weekend where several Catholic business leaders were invited to give sharings on how they have managed to deal with spirituality at the workplace. One prominent chairman of two locally-listed entities was posed a question regarding temptation and how he had managed to deal with it during his tenure as CEO in a large local bank, as well as chairman of another well-known bank.
His reply was sincere and honest. He said that temptations abound at various levels in corporate life. Not just monetary but also ‘perks’ associated with travel overseas, as well as opportunities to sabotage other colleagues for personal gain or glory. And while steering clear of such opportunities is one obvious tactic, sometimes, it is inevitable that the opportunities present themselves due to the cultures associated with doing business (especially in certain countries).
He then cited the parable of the widow’s mite, how in spite of her poverty, she gave all she had. So in his mind, giving all he had meant sacrificing personal gain for the greater good of the organisation. Even if it meant he got a smaller bonus at the end of the year. “Easier said than done, especially for those of us who are not in such a lofty position,” would be the reaction.
But consider this, brothers and sisters, God has given us certain talents, some of which lie undiscovered or hidden (for whatever reasons). What will please God is for those of us who have discovered our talents/calling to then fully give back to Him what He has graced us with. For our God is a God of infinite generosity and there is nothing we can give that will surpass what He has given us in order to glorify Him.
So for me, today’s gospel is a clarion call of sorts – for me to truly examine myself and discern what it is that I have which makes me unique in His eyes. And then to live out His calling by giving my all in order to fulfil His plan for me; not to shortchange God by letting fear or ignorance rule my life.
(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have created us and given each of us a purpose in life. Help us to discover our true identity and work towards fulfilling your awesome plan for our life here on earth.
Thanksgiving: We thank you for all that you have given us and for all that awaits us in your heavenly kingdom.