“Bless the Lord, all rain and dew;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.”
This verse commonly used for praise and worship, was the song sung by the 3 friends of Prophet Daniel when they were pushed into the fiery furnace.
It was the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue whose height was sixty cubits and whose width was six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. You are commanded to fall down and worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Daniel 3:1. The three young Jews who was part of the Babylon administration refused to venerate the statue of the king saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” The king commanded a big fiery furnace to be set up and threw the youth into the furnace. They started singing praises to their God.
Whom should we choose was the question and the dilemma faced by Daniel and his friends. Should they choose the king, the ruler of Babylon or fiery furnace? They chose the fiery furnace and stayed faithful to their true God.
St. George born in Cappadocia had similar life experience. He lived in Palestine with his mother after his father’s death. He joined the Roman army and was soon promoted to the rank of military tribune and soon became the personal security of King Diocletian. The king soon heard that George was a Christian and was soon attempted to convert George, offering gifts of land, money, and slaves if he would sacrifice to the gods, but George refused to worship the king or the roman Gods.
Who should I choose was the question that faced St George as well. Should he choose the king Diocletian or Jesus Christ? If he chose the king he would be prominent personality in the Roman Empire. He could get every luxury he wanted and slaves at his disposal. If he chose Jesus Christ he will lose everything, even his own life. He chose Jesus Christ and George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia’s city wall, on 23 April 303. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.
Our Life a Challenge
Christian life is a life of challenge, a constant challenge. The same question that St George faced is the question that we as a Christian face too. Should we go behind Christ or go after the pleasures the world has to offer. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (Mathew 16:25-26). Anyone who loves his mother, father, son or daughter does not belong to the kingdom of the Lord.
A mother cannot give birth without experiencing the birth pangs. Same way as a Christian we must experience the spiritual pain to be born in the spirit.
Jesus and Challenge
Jesus accepted all the challenges that life threw at him with ease. Saying that he has a baptism to go through was completely aware of his earthly duties. The apostles were aware of their duties too. Following their footsteps St George to was aware of the choices he had to make. He chose not to bow down to any other Gods and was ready to sacrifice his life too for this belief.
‘Take up your cross and follow me’ said Jesus and asked his followers to take up the challenges. There may be many who will say follow me and I will give you all the luxuries of life, money, international trips jobs etc. Jesus Christ was a different leader. He offers poverty and a life of trial and tribulations to all those who follow him. Jesus knew the way and the destination and was open about the challenges that one would face if they followed him. He teaches us that if we need to succeed in our lives we should be able to face any challenges that comes our way.
Only when we are able to walk with steady gait and with our sights focused on the destination will we be able to attain Jesus who teaches us to renounce ourselves and accept the cross. We should ensure that we do not lose focus, or stray from our path.
A Christian who is ready to leave everything this world had to offer and is willing to live 24 hours for the Lord may often be seen as a spectacle. People who go for mass every day, who ensure they are part of the family prayers, who ensures to bring up his family with values and who lives only for truth and Justice, they are the ones who can attain this new world and Jesus. Like St George be crowned as the true crusader of Christ.
St. George should be our inspiration and let us emulate his life and accept the challenges that come our way without fear and follow Christ.
Fr Joseph Nechikkatt