December 18. Daniel. Read the book as a story of encouragement and hope. Chapter 3 has a beautiful long Canticle of Praise of Creation. The episode of Daniel and three teenage youths is set at the time when the Jewish community had been taken into exile when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. King Nebuchadnezzar chose the youths to be trained for his royal household. He insisted that they should go against their beliefs, eat the food he chose for them but which they considered forbidden, and stop praying to God. The youths continued to refuse and were punished by being thrown into a blazing furnace. They were not harmed as God saved them from the fire. A new king Darius was fond of Daniel who had interpreted his dreams and visions but when he heard that Daniel had broken the laws about praying he was also obliged to punish him. Daniel was thrown into a den of lions and again God protected him from harm. King Darius then acknowledged Daniel’s God as the greatest. The Jews were eventually allowed to return to their country when Babylon was overrun by Persia.

Pope Francis: Prudence, good judgment and common sense are dependent on a whole series of things that come together deep within each person at the very core of our freedom. AL262. Points for reflection and sharing. Much of this book contains strange writing about visions in a particular apocalyptic style, but the stories of the commitment of the young men to their beliefs are to be admired. There are youth climate activists today who are committed to their beliefs and to their vision. Other young people do not have such commitment to a cause or what is best for themselves. Discuss the issue of commitment at a wider level.