Today’s scriptures touched my heart because of the hope and faith displayed by believers in God. I was especially moved by the first reading; it was the slap on the face I needed to wake up from my pettiness this Sunday morning.
In the first reading from 2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14, we hear a brief description of the suffering and martyrdom of a mother and her 7 sons at the hands of a king. Intrigued by the scripture, I read Chapter 7 in its entirety. All of the sudden, I found myself there, horrified, witnessing the brutality toward them and yet inspired by their courage and faith. I can’t imagine facing their fate and acting as they did; they suffered courageously, faithfully, and hopefully. One by one, faced with the option to live or die, they choose to die.
The first brother said: “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.” For this, his tongue was cut out, was scalped, his arms and his feet were cut off, and he was fried in a caldron. One would think that the other brothers would be discouraged by their brother’s death; nope: “As a cloud of smoke spread from the pan, the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly.” Instead, they continued to rebel against the king:
“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to live again forever, because we are dying for his laws.”
“It is from Heaven that I received these; for the sake of his laws I disregard them; from him I hope to receive them again.”
“It is my choice to die at the hands of mortals with the hope that God will restore me to life.”
“Mortal though you are, you have power over human beings, so you do what you please.”
“Have no illusions. We suffer these things on our own account.”
“What is the delay? I will not obey the king’s command.”
Imagine the mother’s pain seeing her seven children being killed. Instead, she “exhorted each of them”:
“I do not know how you came to be in my wombs; it was not I who gave you breath and life, nor was it I who arranged the elements you are made of. Therefore, since the Creator of the universe who shaped the beginning of humankind and brought about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of the law.’
We all face daily struggles in our lives. I don’t think, however, most of us will ever endure the kind of suffering this mother and her seven children underwent. Therefore, as we go about our lives, let’s honor their memory by praying to God for their grace to face our problems humbly and hopefully.
May God bless you! Have a great Sunday!
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