My warmest good wishes to Fathers and their Faithful who observe the Pascha today. And the assurance of my prayers for them throughout Bright Week.
I think East and West are united in perceiving the importance of this ancient Easter Reading. Here is the last of Canon Couratin's expositions of the Vigil Lections.
Lesson XII. The Three Children. (Daniel 3:1-24)
What a ridiculous ending to an otherwise edifying series of lessons, -- three men with absurd names, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, -- and the harp, sackbut, psaltery and dulcimer, and the funny story about the band as before -- and their being cast into the burning fiery furnace completely dressed in their coats, their hosen and their hats.
But it didn't seem so funny to the Jews in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, when it encouraged men who were waiting to be burned to death to hope that they would meet one like unto the Son of Man in the midst of the fire.
And it didn't seem so funny to the Christians of the second and third centuries who painted the three children, -- coats, hosen, hats and all, -- on the sides of the catacombs, after burying the charred remains of their fellows in the tombs along the walls.
This text presumably entered the liturgy before the Christisn religion was permitted by the Roman Government. It was a final warning to those who were about to be baptised that it might cost them their lives. And many of those who heard the lesson, but neglected its warning and went on to Baptism, must never have heard it again. For by the next celebration of the Vigil they had gone the way of the martyrs, and were reigning with Christ in the brightness of the eternal Easter.
Alethos anesti! ... thanatoi thanaton patesas, kai tois en tois mnemasin zoen kharisamenos ...