Today’s readings for mass seem to be a reminder to watch what we eat. We spend too much money on foods that aren’t very healthy. Didn’t our mothers and grandmothers insist that we eat our vegetables when we were little children? A lot of little children are not allowed to have sweet drinks with their meals either. Our mothers and grandmothers instinctively knew what was good for us, kind of like Daniel did in today’s first reading for mass. How he could have known the value of a vegetarian diet in his day and age is difficult to understand, but it wasn’t scientists that explained the benefits of a vegetarian diet to him. This was knowledge that was acquired some other way, perhaps through prayer, or perhaps in the age old advice that mothers and grandmothers still pass on to their children this day.
The bible has some very sound guidance for our lives, if we would just pay more attention to it. Today’s first reading for mass from the book of Daniel, goes in great detail to explain the difference between men who ate a healthy diet and those who did not. Daniel and his companions ate only vegetables and water for ten days and the difference was visibly noticeable by those around them. They evidently looked healthier than the other men who were in training with them.
What is really amazing is that it wasn’t just their physical bodies that underwent this transformation, their minds did too. The scriptures today says, “To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency in all literature and science, and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams.” That is enough motivation right there, to pay more attention to our diet. Who doesn’t want a clearer mind and greater understanding of the world in which we live? But, it doesn’t sound like Daniel and his companions acquired this, just from the vegetables they ate. The source of all knowledge comes from God. They probably had a daily routine of a good diet, clean water, exercise, study, and most of all, a regular prayer life.
We could save a lot of money if we lived this way, in more ways than one. Think of the savings in medical bills alone. The human mind can learn just about anything it really sets it’s mind to, but good nutrition surely must aid the brain’s ability to learn. However, God can and does, impart knowledge to people in momentary flashes of insight that can not be learned. It is an act of grace. A person needs to already be in a state of grace, in order to receive these insights from God though. Problems that could take years of study can sometimes be understood and solved with God’s help, through a direct act of grace. So many times this does not occur because we allow our minds and our lives to be too distracted by all the noise and confusion that exists around us. We should seriously pay attention to how Daniel and his companions cut everything out of their diet and their lives, except for what is most important.
And that brings us to today’s gospel. It is about the poor widow, who only put two small coins in the treasury, but it was more than all the others because she gave her whole livelihood. If we pay attention to today’s first reading for mass, we might save some money on our grocery bills, and actually have a little more to give to charity or to the church. That’s a simplistic view of the readings for mass today but it is something just about everyone can do.
The challenge for this week might be to think about cutting back on all of the foods that have no real nutritional value in our diets, and focusing on healthier fruits and vegetables and clean drinking water. Maybe we could take the ten day challenge that Daniel and his companions went on, and see if we look and feel a lot better in ten days. If we save any money by not drinking soda pop or wine, or by not eating rich foods, then we could use it to donate to a particular cause at church, or give to a charitable purpose. Everyone else could benefit from our doing doing this as well. Just like Daniel and his companions’ transformation, benefited king Nebuchadnezzar and his entire kingdom.