November 22.  Vincent, their “Bible fundi” had met with parish family groups to help them understand the deeper messages of the book of Daniel. He explained, “Everyone loves the stories about Daniel and his friends and their miraculous escapes when the various evil kings wanted to punish them.  But there is a deeper meaning. The stories are set in the time when large numbers of the Jews had been killed and most of the remaining ones were taken into captivity in Babylon. It is accepted that this book was actually composed later,  where the context is a similar, in a later persecution of the Jews by foreign rulers, in order for them not to lose hope.” Vincent asked, “Was it their faith and trust in God, God’s care for them or the healthy food they chose to eat that contributed to the superior development of Daniel and his friends?”   Vincent concluded, “In all God does He works alongside nature, which after all he has created, but he expects us to co-operate. We should consider too, that we eat properly and take care of our bodies as well as we should. It is even relevant for our time of climate change and loss of biodiversity and people choosing a meatless diet.”  Nomsa commented, “But with Covid,  the really frightening thing is the unpredictability. I suppose that protecting yourself and taking the vaccine is doing what we can, using the best available means, while also still trusting in God’s care.”      

King Nebuchadnezzar the wealthy and powerful king of Babylon commanded his servant to bring some youths from the people of Israel to serve him, youths without blemish, endowed with knowledge, learning and skills. He wanted them fed from his royal table, but Daniel and his friends refused to eat the rich food but negotiated for them only to be fed vegetables and water.  God gave them learning and skill and Daniel also had understanding in vision and dreams. When brought to the king they were found to be ten times better than his own wise men. Daniel 1.  Pope Francis:  The experience of the Babylonian captivity provoked a spiritual crisis which led to deeper faith in God.  Now his creative omnipotence was given pride of place in order to exhort the people to regain their hope in the midst of their wretched predicament. LS74