One beautiful attribute of the Catholic tradition is the thoughtful way Church readings connect.
The first reading, from Deuteronomy, shares the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s miraculous departure from the fiery furnace without blemish. Through their steadfast courage and conviction to serve only God, they were delivered from torture and evil. They trusted God and were faithful to God alone. They knew God as the only true God, and it set them free from the fire – a hopeless situation.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus questions his persecutors’ connection as Abraham’s descendants, because they are trying to kill him. Although different from the story in Deuteronomy, there is similarity. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a strong faith and trust in God to deliver them from death, just as Jesus knew he would be delivered from the torture he must endure.
As Abraham’s descendants, we are called to be faithful in honoring God, trust in his protection, and continue the work He has called us to do. The Word empowers us, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to fearlessly serve God and bring the message of the Divine love to those we encounter.
As disciples, we are called and commissioned through the Sacrament of Baptism to continue Christ’s mission. It is a mission that calls us out into the world to bring the healing, help, and hope of God to those in society, regardless of their circumstances. It is a mission that invites us to trust that God will provide and protect when we are persecuted for our commitment to protect and honor the dignity of all humanity, from womb to tomb. There may be times we are called to walk in places we might fear, yet we know God will not forsake us, because He is faithful.
As we continue our social mission — to share the Gospel through actions and words of Christ’s compassion with all we encounter — may we find strength in the courage our ancestors demonstrated, and the steadfast love Christ shared with all humanity. Let us be strong, courageous, and faithful to God as we work to bring compassion, love, and healing to those we encounter.
Jeanne Adamske, MAPS, MBA, is the Chief of Staff at Catholic Charities St. Louis. She has served in Church ministry for over fifteen years and continues to carry out Christ’s mission in the world, sharing His compassion, love, and care through ministry work in the world.