Daily Readings Reflection for 11/18/09

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Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Lectionary # 499. Wed of 33 week. II Macc. 7:1.20-31. Psalm
17:1.5-6.6-8. 15. Luke 19:11-28:

Yesterday the reading from I Maccabees was about the heroic martyrdom of
Eleazar, an elderly Israelite who is a martyr. Today we have from II
Maccabees a more powerful story of a mother and her seven sons who are
martyrs. The narrative seems similar to what the early Christians wrote in
what are called “martyrologies.” Both Eleazar and the unnamed woman are
powerful models of courage and commitment to their belief in God as Creator
and Redeemer. God is a person for them; not a cosmic force–that is too
impersonal for men and women of the Bible. Eleazar is more involved with
the rituals of the Israelites and laws of purification whereas the example
of the mother and her sons is totally focused on their personal recognition
of a God who created them in the image and likeness of God. She and her
sons give their lives for the beliefs; they would rather die than break the
commandments God has given them. The mother is a source of great strength
for her children. They become martyrs for their convictions and fidelity to
their Personal God. Themes of creation, redemption, and even resurrection
are present within this dramatic narrative.

We see there is a type of unity between the deutero-canonical books of the
Alexandrian Jews and the Christian writings about the martyrs. The early
Church fathers and mothers insisted on the unity of both testaments and
that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. Only
superficial reading of the bible makes people say that the God of the Old
Testament is a God of wrath; the God of the New is a God of love. Paul
challenges us to think more deeply than a superficial hasty reading of some
parts of the Bible rather than seeing the revelatory mysteries and
salvation history in the light of the whole of the Scriptures. Paul tells
us the “gifts of God are irrevocable.” He explains this in the section we
saw a few weeks ago dedicated to the gifts God has given to the Jewish
people. See Romans chapters 9-11.

What can we take from the readings from Maccabees? A lesson about fidelity
at all costs even of one’s life and the courage to become a martyr. We
will not be called to this in our lives, but we do know of modern day
martyrs from the Holocaust, from Rwanda, from those who died under
Communism. The innocent victims of the wars going on today are also
martyrs and have the same courage and dedication that the earlier martyrs
had. We need such powerful witnesses in a world that is filled with greed,
lust, and hate. Amen.

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