Mass Readings

March 21, 2018

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 253

Reading 1 Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

King Nebuchadnezzar said:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

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.”
Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God.”

Responsorial Psalm Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim;
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!

Verse Before the Gospel See Lk 8:15

Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.

Gospel Jn 8:31-42

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
then do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,
you would be doing the works of Abraham.
But now you are trying to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!”
So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.
We have one Father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

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 Homily 3-21-2018:
Rev. Fr. Joseph Chukwugozie Ikegbunam 
Holy Angels Parish, St. Albans, Vermont 
Daniel 3:14-20,24-25,28; Daniel 3:52-56; John 8:31-42
Refusal to learn the truth is the worst act of slavery, because one has chosen to remain in ignorance when there is a way out through knowledge.
1~ During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, so many Jews were killed because of their faith. Most of them chose to die because, “Faith is dead to doubt, dumb to discouragement, and blind to impossibilities.” The Defender. Killing the Jews then was a routine and daily events, until we saw the three young people today.
2~ When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were summoned by the same king, he got one of the most eternal words that will remain truthful, “if our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, O king, he will save us; and even if he does not, then you must know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have erected.”(Cf Daniel 3:16-18)
3~ Through this response they showed that faith is an assurance of what one hope’s for, believing without seeing, (cf Hebrews 11:1). They would have been consumed by the fire, but God chose an alternative to save them. The truth they learnt had finally set them free and the rest of others who were on the death row.
4~ It is the same truth that Jesus was telling the Pharisees today and invariably to us, that once one comes in contact with this truth, freedom is the end result. To choose to live in sin is to choose to remain in slavery. It is a pity that many people in the world have chosen the path of slavery instead of that of truth.
5~ Dear friend, too many people are suffering from ignorance in the world, because some of them have not been taught, while some have refused to be taught or have chosen not put into practice what they have learnt. May God teach us the truth so that we will be set free by the truth that is Christ. Amen
*Some were born to be free, they chose slavery; some through knowledge set themselves free; some have slavery thrown upon them by their environment; but the greatest is the one who saw knowledge, embraced it and got freedom. Christ is the way out of slavery.*
May our paths today lead us to the way of truth!
Fr. Joseph Chukwugozie Ikegbunam 
Holy Angel’s Parish and St Mary’s Parish, St Albans, Vermont