Optional memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, O.P.
There is an ancient principle that states it is better to suffer injustice than to commit it. In today’s first reading, the three young men who are commanded by King Nebuchadnzzar to abandon God and give into the idolatry instead stubbornly refuse. “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.” (Dn 3:17-18) In the case of the three young men the idolatry that was demanded of them was demanded of them precisely as slaves. Submitting to the unjust demands of the unjust king would not truly guarantee them physical life, since such unjust men do not care about keeping their promises as much as keeping their power. Even if the unjust king were to spare their lives, however, the cost would be too great, the loss of their love for their God. They exemplify those who have the Spirit of God dwelling in them, since they care far more about fidelity to the Lord than even their own lives. The reasonableness of following the Spirit here is illustrated further by Christ in the Gospel.
“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.” (Jn 8:34-36) Jesus realizes that injustice, even if it comes with an increase in influence and power, always binds the will of the one who commits the injustice. It enmeshes one more and more in that which passes. One may imagine for example the numerous statues of themselves that were set up by dictators from Nero to Stalin. Scant are the number of such monuments to be found today of those men. “…but a son always remains.” To partake of the Spirit of Christ is to enter into His perduring nature and the freedom He offers. It is to have one’s heart and mind freed from the shackles of selfishness and turned to consider the needs and concerns of our neighbor. Let us pray once more for that Spirit of the Son which frees us to love as He loves.