Scripture: Daniel 6:1-16
Symbol we use: Lion or lion and lamb ornament
Meditation: Does your celebration this Advent and Christmas look any different from the celebrations of non-Christians in the society around you? Daniel looked and acted like all the other satraps and administrators, but he carried out his duties with integrity and kept his relationship with God at the forefront of his life. His enemies knew they could entrap him by requiring him to betray his faith on threat of execution, because he never hid the importance of that faith from anyone. He didn't go about his job requiring everyone else to worship the Lord. He probably would not have risen high enough in his authority to be a threat to the other satraps if he didn't adapt to the culture in many aspects of his appearance and behavior. Yet he also didn't hide from anyone the fact that he prayed three times every day regardless of the law of the land.
We want this season to look similar to the celebrations those around us are enjoying but with richer meaning. Santa will be filling our daughters' stockings, paper snowflakes decorate our windows, the majority of the gifts we give have nothing spiritual hidden in them. But we also go to Mass on Christmas or Christmas Eve, we've been reviewing salvation history all month, we have three Nativity displays out, we point out the Christian symbolism inspiring many Christmas decorations. We want to live in the culture we've been placed in, participating in many of the norms and behaviors of those around us. But we also want to live as foreigners, whose faith takes precedence over everything else. We want to distinguish ourselves not so we stick out like a sore thumb, but so our behavior is so honest and trustworthy that the only grounds our enemies have to persecute us is on our devotion to the Lord. Just as Daniel probably didn't cut his beard differently or loudly protest certain activities "because I need to go home and pray!", I think it is good to enjoy many of the Christmas customs celebrated by the society we live in rather than exclude ourselves unnecessarily. But Daniel's conformity never crossed the line of diminishing his relationship with God. We can learn from him to keep Christ in our everyday activities and bring our devotion to Him into the way we conduct all our affairs, including our celebration of His birth.
Jesse Tree Week 1: The Patriarchs
Sunday: Root of Jesse
Tuesday: Fall of Mankind
Jesse Tree Week 2: The Formation of a People Set Apart
Tuesday: Israelites at Mt. Sinai
Jesse Tree Week 3: The Formation of a Nation Set Apart
Sunday: King David