Chp:Commentary on Daniel 3:8-97: The Importance of Giving Thanks to the Father
"Come, little John. After having rejoiced in the vision of your Jesus, who loves children--and you along with them--let us go together to read my and your Daniel, in the place where he speaks of the three children who pleased God because they had the faith, fidelity, and trust proper to children and believed tenaciously, believed unhesitatingly, believed even in a tremendous trial because they loved 'the Lord God with their minds, with their hearts with all their strength, and with their entire selves.
"There have always been tyrants. And in their tyranny--of which Satan makes use to pervert them and to torment their subjects, leading them to distrust God, above all--they take delight in iniquitous laws, promulgated at the instigation of haughtiness and supported by the power of the sword --Weapons of any kind.
"A wretched power condemned by Me. Cursed by Me. A power which is weakness. The power of one who is overbearing which turns against him as a weapon. A power which triggers other powers, which either resolve the situation in human terms with a crime which is the result of all the previous crimes or supernaturally attract divine aid, which--in being much more powerful than all weapons and all words--casts down the tyrant's pride and turns it into benignity, freeing his subjects from his sacrilegious tyranny in a holy manner.
"Nebuchadnezzar, intoxicated by his power, thought is was licit to overstep his bounds, as regards God as well, by introducing idolatry centering on a golden statue--the symbol of his power, which he deemed divine--even among those who worshipped the true God.
"There is nothing divine except God. There is no true power except divine power. The others are missions involving command, for there must be someone at the head of an ethnic group, but they are not superpowers, much less divine. I have already explained that they exist as long as God allows them to, that they exist for the sake of their action in aiding or punishing men deserving or undeserving of heavenly protection, and that they cease to exist when they overstep their bounds by making the punitive yoke upon arrogant men too harsh. To punish a sin, God does not allow a greater one to be committed, and He then strikes those who are no longer the administrators of justice, but of blameworthy power.
"Man submits to tyrants--indeed, to the powerful--and the more tyrannical they are in their poorly understood and poorly exercised power, the more man submits. That idolatry by the masses takes place which I have spoken to you about on several occasions as regards one member of the multitude who, in a more or less licit and holy way, has become the Head of a people and performs his missions more or less justly. And, since Satan is the eternal creator of deceit, the one begetting the ever-new apocalyptic 'beasts' to suck man into his power and endowing them with all powers for seduction; and since men have an impetus towards evil more than good in them, for they are more inclined toward Evil--Satan--than towards Good--God--and do not counterbalance and neutralize the malefic impetus with love and union with Christ, the victor over Satan, it happens that the more these conquerors for an hour are unworthy to be such, the more idolized they are.
"In the kingdom of Babylon the subjects, seduced by the gleam of the golden statue (what a deep meaning!) and by the voices of those proclaiming the king's will, hastened to worship the idol. The idol! Not God. The idol of gold! Gold! The eternal charmer!
"God is not an idol of gold. God is an infinite, eternal, perfect Spirit in Heaven; God is most holy Flesh hanging from a cross on the Earth or living in the Sacrament on the altar of the Eucharist. In Heaven the nine angelic choirs sing around his throne. Around his cross--from Golgotha to the present day and until the end of the world--there ascend the voices of those praying and loving (a few!) and the howls of those cursing (many!). Around his Tabernacle, like lamps, are the hearts worshipping Him and awaiting life and comfort from Him.
"This is God. Spirit and Flesh. Not gold. A metal which you have endowed with great value because, as eternal savages, you have let yourselves be seduced by its glitter, but it is less precious than the grayish iron which gives you ploughs and scythes, and spades, the only useful, holy weapons, because they till the glebes, open them for seed, and cut down the ear of grain, God's great gift to man, the ear of grain which is your daily bread.
"The subjects of Nebuchadnezzar--partly because of the seduction of gold (the case of most of them) and partly out of fear of royal punishments--worshipped the idol. All of them, except the three young men who, thanks to the care of God's Prophet, had not contaminated themselves with impure food.
"Observe the great teaching carefully. The stimulus towards sin often enters by way of gluttony. In a body nourished in a gluttonous fashion the other appetites also arise. Concupiscence appears in its threefold garb, for the fumes of excess in food arouse sensuality, enkindle pride, and consequently spur man to be avid for money, since to possess woman and power a lot of money is needed. In the seething of the passions faith dies, and the soul detaches itself from God, thus preparing itself to worship the first idol which is presented to it.
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had lived chastely as regards gluttony as well. Faithful to God, to their God, in this, too. And God had grown in them with the growth of themselves. God reigned in their hearts, pure altars to which they provided every form of care because they were the throne of their Lord.
"In possessing God, alive in them and the master of all their strength, and, more than a master, the Father and Governor of their strength, they were able to resist every threat and not fear, not fear, Maria. They did not even find it useful to argue with the tyrant. It is a good rule not to get into arguments with the wicked, but to ask God to argue for us in their hearts better than we could.
"Look at what I, though I was God, did with my accusers, inquisitors, and judges. I always broke off sharply and did not reply at all. I first went up onto the Cross, praying and suffering, and then acted from Heaven. That is the way to act, little John, for those one wants to convert. The first conversion is obtained with prayer and pain. Afteward's God's Light descends into the heart prepared to receive it, and it becomes Word and Life.
"The three young men did not argue. They knew that all argument would remain fruitless and that a miracle was needed to clear the haze from the king's heart. A miracle obtained through an act of absolute faith and intrepid heroism. Faith, heroism--the two flowers of love.
"And love responds to love. God never disappoints anyone. And God, who in his perfection already knew how the three young men would act, had his angel go before them into the furnace so that, when the cruel men had cast them into the flames, the place would already be prepared, as fresh as a dew-covered meadow in the morning, ventilated by the angel's wing with the gentlest wind, compared to which the sweet wind of April is foul breath; He had the angel precede them so that the flames could not even graze the slightest hair on their innocent heads, but would be only a living tent of heat--less (oh, less!) intense than the tent of their charity--extended between the pagan world and the dwelling prepared by God.
"God is a Father, Maria. God always precedes his children in their needs. When you call out to Him for help, He has already made provision. But it is necessary to have faith. Great faith. And great gratitude.
"The cry rising from the earth, from the heart of a grateful man, to the throne of God is so beautiful! It resounds like the arpeggio or a harp in Paradise, and all the heavenly harmonies remain silent for an instant, for the whole Empyrean bends over, listening to that cry of thanks which a good son sends to the good Father. And that cry is then gathered in, repeated, and amplified by all the choirs of the angels and the blessed and becomes that day's song in lovely Paradise, and the Trinity beams in its gladness, and Mary laughs with her laughter as the Mother and the Queen.
"Too few give thanks, Maria. And only God knows how He continually provides you with gifts! You don't even realize. His Fatherhood gives them to you so delicately in order not to offend you, as with a small offering, that you think they are your work. No. From morning to night, from night to morning, God comes to your aid. And you do not give thanks. You do not give thanks even for the 'major' graces obtained.
"But you are no longer a man--you are little John. Do you know what 'John' means? I means 'God grants graces.' In truth, to few have I granted or do I grant so many graces as to you. And, observe: you bear the two dearest names to Me: Mary/John. One was given you by your relatives. But the other was given you by Me, your King and Spouse. You were the bitter Pearl, the bitter Sea. But I wanted to make you sweet: a little pearl of My Heart, which is divine sweetness. And I rebaptized you 'John' for I am the God who grants graces.
"But say 'Thank You' to me always, always, always, from dawn to dusk, from night to day. Let your 'Thank You' fill Heaven continuously, for yourself and for the numberless persons who lie and die without a 'Thank You' for their God. Amplify your 'Thank You' like the three young men, calling all created things to join in your song--things which with their language, are able to praise God better than men can.
"Join the saints in Heaven and the saints on Earth to say your 'Thank You.' Join Me in Eucharist, and with your lips rendered sweet and scented by the Bread of life, pray and thank God the Father with Christ Himself living in you. And the miracle will take place as it did for the three young boys and the cruel king. Men 'will see' God by means of your prayer. Not all of them. But even if it were alone, you would be blessed by Me once more.
"Nebuchadnezzar saw God in his angel and understood that one must not fight against that God. He understood that his idol was lifeless matter rendered sinful through man's wrongdoing and that the true God is one alone--the God of Shadrach Meshach and Abed-Nego--and touched by the Light, He recognized his error and confessed it and offered worship and honor to the Holy God, Lord of Heaven and Earth.
"Do you see little John how much the faith of three boys can do?
"Now, confess you that were saying yesterday that you no longer wanted to be my little disciple until I had heeded you because you were too wounded by what exists in the world and around you. Hasn't everything disappeared--yesterday's pain, disgust, and discomfort? Isn't everything canceled out by the wave of rejoicing I have poured over you? What would you do without Me, poor soul that live on this bread of mine--on my Word, more than the bread made of wheat with which you satisfy your hunger? Don't you know that when one is caught up in my whirlpool of love, one can no longer emerge, no longer wants to emerge? But you know. And if, as in an April sky, clouds arise, they are nothing but holy water which makes the sun brighter and the earth more beautiful.
"Come, come, like the children yesterday. Come and lay your head on my knees. This is the posture of children and those expressing love. The one adopted by Mary, when redeemed, who drank in Life by listening to Me. Come and never be afraid.
I am with you."
Peace be with you always