Grace to you!
One of the most moving stories in the deuterocanonical books of the bible is the story of the martyrdom of a woman and her seven sons. It is recorded in the Second Book of Maccabees chapter seven. As we had mentioned yesterday, it is suggested the book was written around the second century BC.
The woman and her seven sons were forced to reject their faith. They were to eat pork, which was forbidden in their Jewish religion. As I also hinted during our reflection yesterday, the main issue was not necessarily about whether eating pork is sinful or not, but about the significance of the ritual it represents. The eating of the pork in that circumstance was a renunciation of their Jewish faith and acceptance of the cult of King Antiochus Epiphanes.
The consequence of not renouncing their faith was the death penalty. The woman and her sons were courageous to face martyrdom. One after another, they were brutally executed. This story is sad. It makes me sick in the stomach.
I am, however, attracted by the courage of the woman and her seven sons. That woman is a true example of audacious faith. She was courageous to inspire her children to bravely stand their ground against threats to the most important thing in their life. They were inspired to celebrate the reality that beyond this present life, there is eternal glory.
Life is not all about what we see here and our temporal existence. I understand some people don’t believe in life after death. However, I wonder what the meaning of life would be if there is no resurrection. Or rather, I wonder what will happen when after death one realizes that resurrection of the righteous unto life eternal is real, and eternal loss is also real. A wise person would not be caught unprepared.
From the courage of the woman and her seven sons I’m encouraged to see in my daily challenges, opportunities to live above what holds me down. Hope of resurrection is a blessing.
Martyrdom is powerful evidence that one could live beyond the limiting powers of this earthly temporal existence. Day to day sacrifices borne with the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, inspires a unique strength, power from above.
Sacrifices borne with Christ produce heroic character. Any person blessed with heroic virtue of courage and endurance holds on even when it seems practically impossible to do so. Reward comes in the end.
The ultimate reward is the grace to see the Lord face to face. It is from this hope that a person of faith streams backwards to every other thing he or she faces in life. The hope of heaven and life in God inspire the righteous’ actions.
I pray that the Good Lord will give us the grace to live and lead like the children of the resurrection. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
[Wednesday Week 33 A: 2 Mac 7:1; 20-31; Lk 19:11-28]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.