Christ’s harsh words in this morning’s gospel are the kind we have come to associate with his dealings with the Scribes and Pharisees, except that today’s excerpt begins with the phrase: Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him—that is, his disciples. This serves as a reminder that although Christ embraces the sinner with loving mercy and compassion, hard truths about ourselves (of which we are ignorant) sometimes require a bitter medicine in which the Divine Physician seems to suspend mercy and compassion. Some of our severest spiritual trials and sufferings occur because of this seeming suspension of mercy and compassion through which the hidden roots of our sin and evil are exposed and painfully brought to our awareness. Jesus accused his hearers of trying to kill him because he told them the truth; we can unwittingly attempt to do the same by resisting the truth by turning away from the light and preferring to dwell in the shadows of death. Let us instead imitate Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and walk into the exposing light and purifying fire of the furnace of God’s love where we will meet Christ who has not abandoned us but waits to lead us to glory.