Grace to you!
One of my long time friends is an attorney. Very smart guy. From him I have learned a few things about laws and the meaning of some legal concepts.
One of his famous lines is: “It is not enough that justice be done. Justice must be seen to have been done.”
Unpacking this statement, I have come to relate it to many things, including the spiritual life. Sometimes one may suppose if “I feel okay about something” it doesn’t matter what others think or its consequences to others. This is not always the right way to see things. There are many situations that call us to reflect on the impact of our choices and examples on others.
I read the story of Eleazar in the Second Book of Maccabees chapter 6:18-31. I’m fascinated by how he discerned properly between his private choices and the impact on those who looked up to him, as well as its relevance to the faith of his people. He was one of the few Jews who were in the good books of the Greek government of the time. He was a prominent Scribe. One could say he was among those with some political connections. He was well respected by the elite, the rich and the famous in the kingdom, probably including the king.
However, there was a problem. During the regular birthday celebration of the King, some of his delegates were to implement the king’s evil law promoting the cult of the king. The king, Antiochus Epiphanes, made a law for a one-world government, forcing a particular religious practice upon all in his kingdom. So, his delegates wanted to use Eleazar’s influence to woo the Jews to renounce their faith and follow the worship of the king. You may consider reading the story. It would be worth your time.
Eleazar was to be served with clean meat (such as beef), but pretend in public to be eating pork. Pork was forbidden by the Jewish religious custom. Eleazar wouldn’t do such a thing, arguing that it is living a pretentious life and misleading the people. The cost of his refusal would be death. He gladly welcomed the outcome and was martyred.
Some may ask about what is in eating the pork; afterall, many of us eat pork today. To reason like this is to miss the main lesson. It wasn’t so much about the pork as it was what the eating of the pork signifies.
Many times, there is the lure to undermine an ethical position because we’ve been offered something behind the scene. There is the enticing glare of pleasant promises, but underneath is a lie. A cover for a lie doesn’t make it less of a lie. It is living the lie.
Eleazar stands out as a model of authentic self-identity, freedom and straightforward life. He is a just man.
There is wisdom in properly discerning the craftiness of a lie. When some offer or opportunity is too good to be true, advance with caution. Not all that glitters is gold.
The righteous and those who live truthfully know that the end does not justify the means. One may have the entire public accolade, but if one were eating with deceit behind the scenes, such would lead to a colossal loss. The lie catches up with the liar.
From the story of Zacchaeus in the bible we learn how to turn the tide by reaching out to the Lord for redemption. Restitution is equally required for any harm or injustice done. Justice must be seen to have been done. Then we could hear those words from the Lord with power behind them: “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost" (Lk 19:9-10).
Praying that what we do in the dark would be what we practice in the open. Truthfulness in words and actions are our path to happy life.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 33 A; 2 Mac 6:18-31; Lk 19:1-10]
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.