A Catholic reads the Bible, Week 36: Deadlines and Daniel

(CNN)Confession time: I procrastinate.


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I probably should have mentioned this before. Before Week 36 of this yearlong journey through the Bible.


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During my senior year of college, I wrote an art history paper in one night with the assistance of a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola.
In the last two weeks, while trudging through Ezekiel, those old feelings came back. I did everything I could to not read the Bible.
In Week 35, I listed off how many more prophets I had to read and much more of the Old Testament was left. I sort of freaked out.
I went days without picking up the book. I published my last post over three weeks ago.
There wasn’t any good reason to be blamed for my lack of reading. I just didn’t want to do it. Ezekiel seemed endless. The inclusion of the number of cubits needed to build the New Temple almost put me over the edge.
I had been there before and I didn’t like Kings much the first time.
But over the weekend, I met two people I hadn’t seen in many years, and without even knowing it, they both encouraged me. Each of them said that while not Catholic, they enjoyed my writing and this project. They were reading.
It was my sign to get my act together.
And as I started the book of Daniel, it got me thinking about how writer’s block had happened before to me. I had felt frustrated. Previously, I had sought “professional guidance” from priests and rabbis to make things clearer and more understandable.
But, this time, I just needed time to work it through and think. The book of Daniel was the life raft that I needed.
Daniel is the story of a young boy who serves kings and provides them the wisdom of worship of God — again, they better listen to him or else.
I am sure that anyone else writing this might have focused on what happened with Daniel and the lion. But, that was an easy story that I already knew.
Instead, my favorite is the one found in Chapter 3, which focuses on Daniel’s three friends: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I didn’t know that Daniel had three others with him.
Those three tell King Nebuchadnezzar that he is doomed for worshipping a false idol.
Nebuchadnezzar, of course, doesn’t like their message, and sends the trio burn in the hottest of ovens (Fire — a great fear of mine, almost equal to locusts).
But, as they go into the fire, they don’t burn. They aren’t even singed, because of their faith in God.
They dance around praising the Lord. It goes on for 38 verses. A lot of inanimate objects praise God, as in verse 70, “Ice and snow bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.”
Or in verse 80, “You birds of the air, bless the Lord.”
It’s kind of catchy.
The three friends of Daniel survive the fire and get promoted into better “jobs” for Nebuchadnezzar when he realized the error of his ways.
When I got to this line at the end of Chapter 3, I thought about my two friends, and it was a reminder of why I have loved this last year:
“How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders; his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures through all generations.”
And with that, I am back to work.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/06/living/catholic-bible-36/index.html

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