- Song of the Three Young Men (or Azariah and the Three Jews) 2–4,11–20a (In some Bibles: Daniel 3:25–27,34–43)
- Psalm 25:3–10
- Matthew 18:21–35
For me, the Song of the Three Young Men is forever colored by the Beastie Boys brilliant, bratty song “Shadrach,” from Paul’s Boutique. The voices of those three young men, exulting at being released from their record contract and making one of the great records of the late 1980s with their newfound freedom, is one of my favorite moments where legendary Biblical history gets embedded in popular culture.
I’ve often wondered why Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego aren’t more popular names for children, but I just learned that those are Chaldean names assigned to three young Hebrew men who were originally called Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah — names which are way better theologically, but you have to admit just don’t have the delightful ring of the Babylonian slave names.
Speaking of pleasure, I love how the lectionary juxtaposes the story of the unforgiving servant with the story of the forgiving King Nebuchadnezzar. All of us live surrounded both by people more powerful and those less powerful, and wherever we find ourselves in that hierarchy, we are urged to forgive and be kind to those less powerful.
Are we also urged to resist the powerful? Certainly that’s what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did, by appealing to the highest power of all, the God who came and joined them in the fiery furnace.