In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
The Lord let King Jehoiakim of Judah fall into his power, as well as some of the vessels of the house of God. These he brought to the land of Shinar, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his gods. Then the king commanded his palace master Ashpenaz to bring some of the Israelites of the royal family and of the nobility, young men without physical defect and handsome, versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight, and competent to serve in the king's palace; they were to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans.
The king assigned them a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine. They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king's court. Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, from the tribe of Judah.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself. Now God allowed Daniel to receive favour and compassion from the palace master. The palace master said to Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink. If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king."
Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: "Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations, and deal with your servants according to what you observe." So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days.
At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations. So the guard continued to withdraw their royal rations and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom; Daniel also had insight into all visions and dreams. At the end of the time that the king had set for them to be brought in, the palace master brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, and the king spoke with them. And among them all, no one was found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they were stationed in the king's court. In every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
You are blest, Lord God of our fathers. (R./)
Blest your glorious holy name. (R./)
You are blest in the temple of your glory. (R./)
You are blest on the throne of your kingdom. (R./)
You are blest who gaze into the depths. (R./)
You are blest in the firmament of heaven. (R./)
One day Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also noticed a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on."
Daniel and the three companions had a critical choice to make. Their peaceful existence had been disrupted and they had to begin all over again at the royal court in Babylon. They were willing to adapt, learn the new language and be instructed in Babylonian customs, but refused to follow sinful practices that would compromise their fidelity to God. Their absolute refusal to eat unclean food may seem strange to us, but this matter was of vital importance, to be true to their Jewish religion. Eventually their courage made them admired and loved, for loyalty to God can bring an inner peace that is not otherwise available.
With the help of grace our integrity will sustain us through life. The trials of life do not destroy but purify the person of faith. The gospel praises the widow who drops her last two copper coins into the treasury. By giving what she could not afford, she gave more than the wealthiest donation. We must be ready when the spirit inspires us to go outside our comfort zone, ways that bond us with Jesus who gave himself totally on the cross. The widow contribute her coins, not caring if nobody saw what she was doing, never thinking it would be remembered forever. Only when the time comes will each of us realise what we have given to our neighbour and to God.
The phrase "widow's mite" conveys the paradox that while giving a large donation, some people are actually sacrificing little, whereas others in giving a little, are actually giving a lot. The widow gave less than others to the temple treasury, but it counted for a lot, because she gave everything she had.
That lesson can be true in our own lives. Sometimes we appear to be giving little but it counts for a lot, because we are giving as much as we can . For various reasons, we can be below par. Our health may be impaired; our energy level may be low because of some personal issue at the time. In those circumstances, even to make a little effort can be giving a great deal. The widow reminds us that, even when we have little to give, it can count for a lot in the sight of God