On Doing the Right Thing

St. Daniel in the lions den

We are told throughout our first reading today how it was the fault of “some men” that Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. It emphasized over and over how the king himself did not want to put Daniel in there. He “worked until sunset to rescue him” and “sleep was impossible” that night. After Daniel himself, we are supposed to feel bad, I suppose, for the king, but who issued the royal decree? Who insisted that no one should pray to anyone except the king for one month?

Those men who are accusing Daniel tell us who it was, “Daniel, the Jewish exile, has paid no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you issued.” The king issued the royal decree. So if he spent a sleepless night without dinner or entertainment, I think he deserved it. He never does, but he could have even taken responsibility for his own actions.

What could he have done though? As the men remind him, “under the Mede and Persian law” royal decrees are irrevocable. Perhaps, but under the law of God, throwing a human into a lions’ den because they were praying is wrong. When human law conflicts with divine law, it is obvious what ought to prevail. The king should not have thrown Daniel in the lions’ den, no matter what. He was not forced to.

The king dug a hole for himself with his stupid decree. Then he felt that he had no choice but to follow through. He was wrong. We always have a choice to do what is right. Like a businessman who is forced to lie under oath or a single mother who is forced to kill her own child, it is possible to arrive at a point where the choice is between self-sacrifice and doing wrong. The businessman is not forced; he could always go to jail instead. The mother is not forced; she could always struggle to care for the child instead.

It is never impossible to do what is right. In every circumstance, no matter what choices we have made up to that point, we can always begin doing what is right. It may be difficult. We may lose everything except our souls. Who knows what would have happened if the king had refused to thrown Daniel in the loins’ den. He might have lost his kingdom. It would have been worth it though, to do what is right.

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1 Response to “On Doing the Right Thing”



  1. 1 Orthodox Collective Trackback on September 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm

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St. Poemen the Great

"A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable."

St. Gregory the Great

"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

"Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins."

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

“Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing your body or in reading written prayers….it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, with mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in a crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man’s. We can always say to Him in our hearts Lord , Lord have mercy.”

St. John of Kronstadt

The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind.

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