My dear friends, sisters and brothers in Christ, the story of the three Jewish boys that we read today from Daniel 3:14 and following, confirms to us that there is a relationship between truth and freedom. Jesus had said in John 8:32, ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ And we see this play out in the story of Meshak, Shedrack and Abednego in Daniel 3:14 and following. The three young men stood strong in defense of the truth of their faith, such that they were willing to give whatever it took to defend it. They were aware that standing up for the truth might turn people against them, but they were willing to pay the price. They were willing because they were sure that the truth will set them free; literally, set them free from the roasting end that the king had planned for them. Without knowing exactly how, the three of them were willing to be thrown into the blazing furnace, with the assurance that their witness to the truth will set them free.
Of course, God did not disappoint them; he sent his angel to deliver them as the fourth man in the fire; their faithfulness to the truth, ensured that they were unharmed. This says to us that as Christians, who have been fed with the truth of the gospel, we must be ready to stand for the truth, especially, the truth of our faith. The three young men teach us that we should stand up for the truth at all times, even if it means standing alone. Witnessing to truth at all times, and defending the truth at all times, helps us to connect with Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. The truth of our faith that are fiercely contested by powerful groups in the world of today, includes truths that concern abortion, contraception, gay, transgender and lesbian relationships and some other matters of morality.
Truth of our faith derives from natural law, and from revelation, duely transmitted down through the apostolic tradition, and therefore, are not negotiable. One way of dealing with the opposition to them is to yield to the pressure of the world, and give up on proclaiming the truth. Another way is to water down the truth for popular acclamation, or else, to stand up for them, even if it means being alone. Dear brothers, dear sisters, if you stand for the truth, be ready for persecution that will come, under all sorts of covers. However, never forget what Jesus says in John 8:31-42, ‘If you remain in the world, you will be my disciples. To be true disciples, you must stand up for the truth of our faith, and the truth will set us free, as it did for Meshak, Shedrack and Abednego. May the Almighty God bless and sanctify your day, in the name of the father, and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.