Wellspring of the Gospel

 

Year C: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: 2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14

The Books of Maccabees were written less than 200 years before Jesus was born and are largely historical accounts of invasions and persecutions of the Jewish people. They give a good idea of the suffering of the Jewish people at the hands of successive invaders in those years just before Jesus and go some way to explaining why the yearning for  a Messiah had become so strong.

Todayís First Reading is particularly harrowing.

It is an extract from the account of the torture and murder of a mother and - one by one - her seven sons. Their heroism cannot be doubted and the message is clear - the brutality of the invaders even towards women and children - and the courage of those women and children in the face of their torturers.

The hope they carry to their deaths is the hope of resurrection.

To obey the king and eat pigís flesh would be death to their souls - though the circumstances would have made the sin less great.

Their choice, though, is to meet death because they have Godís promise that they will be raised up to a new life.

The curse is upon the king and the torturers - by their actions, they will not find resurrection or new life.

This is one of the clearest statements of the growing understanding of the effect our lives on earth have on our lives after the death of our earthly body.

It also bears witness to the great courage of the martyrs who are prepared to face death rather than compromise their faith.

 What does it mean for me?

Waterlily How do you react to such a violent reading? Does it fill you with admiration - or make you fearful of persecution?

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