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Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent 
Lectionary: 253

Reading 1DN 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

King Nebuchadnezzar said:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
In the time of the Babylonian exile, three Hebrew youth were entrapped by the King's counselors because they did not worship any pagan idols.

Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Now the charge had been brought to the King that the youth would not worship the national idol and he was giving them a chance to comply under penalty of death by fire.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
But the three youth answered, "Even if our God does not save us from your penalty, we will not serve your god."

King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.
At this the King became very angry and ordered the fire to be stoked hotter than it had ever been before.  Then he had the three cast into the fire.

Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,
“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”
“Assuredly, O king,” they answered.
“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt,
walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.” 
Suddenly, the King got up and asked, "How many people did we cast into the fire?  Wasn't it three?"

His counselors answered, "That is correct, sire."
Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God.”
And then the King of Babylon praised the God of Israel.  Because God had sent His angel to rescue the three youth who gave up their lives rather than worship a pagan idol. 

Responsorial PsalmDN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
God be praised for ever and ever!  God, you are good and most high and most glorious.  May all men praise your name forever.

“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
You are holy Lord, in your holy Temple.

“Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
You are holy Lord, in your heavenly Kingdom.

“Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim;
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
You are holy Lord, from your heavenly seat.

“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
You are holy Lord in all the heavens. 

GospelJN 8:31-42

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
To the Jews who believe in Him, Jesus said, "If you obey my words, you will be my students and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains. 
The answered, "But we have always been free, descendants of Abraham."  Jesus in turn said, "You have committed sin and those who commit sin are slaves to sin."

So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
then do what you have heard from the Father.”
But if I set you free from sin, you will be free.  But although you are descendants of Abraham, you don't believe me and are therefore trying to kill me.  I tell you what the Father sent me to tell you.  Therefore obey the Father whose words I bring to you.

They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,
you would be doing the works of Abraham.
But now you are trying to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!”
Then they said, "Our father is Abraham."

And Jesus said, "If your father were Abraham, you would not be trying to kill me."

So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.
We have one Father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
And they said, "we are not bastard children.  Our Father is God."  And Jesus said, "If your Father were God, you would love me because I come from God.  It is God who sent me."

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