I for one definitely had no idea about who the Prophet Daniel was or what he did before I was sitting in personal prayer the other day. In my daily readings I read Daniel Chapter 3, and was so interested, I went right back to the start of the Book of Daniel and started reading the entire scripture. Daniel has an incredible story, and I would strongly encourage you to take a read of his story within the book of Daniel in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Well here's the down low on Daniel. He and some other young men from Judah were taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar (could you imagine having his name filling out exam sheets?!) and taken to Babylon in around the year 604 B.C.
Once Daniel and these other men were in Babylon, the King said that they were to be educated for three years, and to be living on royal rations. Now for students, and really captives at that, to be given royal rations is something quite extraordinary. For Daniel, the royal rations consisted of "a daily portion of food & wine." The equivalent for us would be the meal availability the UQ Colleges have, with free alcohol and amazing top-of-the-line food. However as the meals would have contained unclean meat, for Daniel as a Jew, it was against what his customs and beliefs allowed.
So the first thing Daniel does with this (recap: he's just been kidnapped from his home, forced to study and live abroad, basically as a slave) is that he asks the Palace Master to allow him not to dishonour himself with this food. Daniel and a couple of his mates ask that they be tested for ten days, given only vegetables and water. And at the end of the ten days, it was found that they appeared better then the others who had been eating the royal rations, so the palace master allowed them to continue eating this way. At the end of the training time, no other man was able to compare with Daniel and his 3 friends in health or wisdom.
(Note: If you want more information on why Daniel refused the food and the cultural context of his dilemma, read the scripture and check out this awesome commentary here)
So I'm pretty sure when your Mum tells you to eat your veggies, she's probably quoting Daniel. But more importantly, Daniel wanted to act in a way that respected his own culture and his own ways in a different land & environment. When we ourselves enter into University, it is tempting for us to try and fit the mold that has been made for us, and turn away from our Religion & our own culture in favour of something more popular. And the result of this for Daniel was that he thrived and ended his time of training & study better then the others who may have shifted to do as others wanted them to do.
After this, David went on to become one of the King's trusted interpreters and advisers because he gave the King the interpretation of his dream, which was told to David by God, and King Nebuchadnezzar declared the God of David the "God of God's."
So David came into a place of influence because of his continuous praise to God, and other people started plotting and conspiring against him because of the power he had. They convinced the recently appointed King Darius (at least they can pronounce the Kings name now I guess) that no-one could worship anyone or anything else except for the King for 30 days, or as punishment they would be thrown into a den of lions, and the King accepted and signed the document.
Daniel knew that this decree had been made, but still decided none the less that he would take time to praise his God and would pray 3 times a day as he did previously. The men found him praying and brought him before the King. The King was distressed, and wanted to save Daniel, but was bound by the laws that he had created. And so Daniel was thrown into the lions den.
At the end of the night, King Darius rushed back to the lions den to see if Daniel had been saved by God. And Daniel was still alive and said "My God sent his angel and shut the lions mouths so they would not hurt him, because I was found blameless before him and before you, O king, I have done no wrong." (Daniel 6:22)
So King Darius then took the conspirators against Daniel and had them thrown into the lions den, and they, well, didn't have God on their side.
We can see from this short reflection, that Daniel is a man of faith, and in thick and thin, he stuck by his faith, and relied not upon his own knowledge, strength or ability, but went before God to ask for divine assistance, and humbled himself in the acknowledgement that God can provide where he cannot.
In our own lives, it can be so tempting to try and handle everything by ourselves, but we must be aware that God is with us, and that calling upon him for his assistance can give us the grace, strength and ability to do what we cannot achieve by ourselves. It also seems that when others condemn us, that they are the strong ones, but as can be seen within the lions den, Daniel overcame the test put before him with God's assistance, but the conspirators couldn't overcome their own test.
Today, ask God's helping hand into your life, stand up straight and tall, stick by your beliefs, and eat your vegetables.
This reflection was written by Nick Kelly, who prides himself on being crucified in the role of Jesus at least 6 times in different presentations of the Stations of the Cross, and a proud member of the Morgan Freeman Appreciation Society.