“There is nothing more majestic than the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for their freedom and dignity.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
God invites us to freedom, faith, and a fierce commitment to the Truth. These perennial values are nowhere more clearly displayed than in the readings we have today about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who chose to suffer and die, rather than bow down to the gods of their age. Jesus also tells ‘those who believed him’ that for freedom to be manifest in their lives, they must remain in his word, and so become his disciples.
And what an example Jesus had already given:
- Saving a couple from shame by a miraculous provision of wine.
- Healing the son of a centurion (a gentile outside his tribe).
- Schooling a great leader of the people (Nicodemus) on the ABCs of giving birth to a whole new paradigm through the Spirit coming from above that recreates all things.
- Breaking barriers by interacting with a Samaritan woman and then spending time among the once marginalized.
- Ending the misery of a crippled man discouraged by 38 years of trying to reach leftovers for so many who were oppressed.
- Seeing the hunger of those around him and insisting that his disciples not dismiss them, but feed them. Then taking, blessing, and sharing what they had till everyone was satisfied and there were leftovers.
- Teaching the people in the synagogue, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” because I will share what vivifies me (my Spirit) with them.
- Refusing to stand in judgment over a woman caught in adultery, so that she could walk out of what enslaved her, into deeper freedom and life.
This is the commitment we are invited to make, the example we are called to live by, no matter the cost.
- Which of these examples given by Jesus most speak to you?
- How are you called to deepen your commitment to the Truth—to dignity and justice for all people?
Fr. Ike Udoh, S.J., was born in California and moved to Nigeria with his family when he was 2 years old. He lived there until he graduated from high school, then returned to California, earning a degree in integrative biology from UC Berkeley. He joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 2004, and currently serves the community of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hollywood, California.