Our first reading today comes from the 2nd book of Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14. This is an Old Testament book written approximately 161 B. C. It’s very interesting that it has nothing to do with the first book of Maccabees. It stands on its own. The main thrust of 2nd Maccabees is the author’s teachings on the resurrection of the just people on the last day, the intercession of the saints for people living on earth and the notion that people on earth can offer prayers and sacrifices for the dead. This is very important because all of the things promulgated in 2nd Maccabees are promulgated by Jesus himself. This is noteworthy because it shows Jesus is not teaching anything new. He is reemphasizing what the Father taught from the beginning of time.
The story today is about seven brothers and their mother who were arrested and tortured because they refused to eat pork because it is a violation of God’s law. The king tries to entice all seven brothers not to give up their lives for the sake of not eating pork. Six of the brothers in turn refuse to acquiesce to the king’s demands and are tortured and murdered. Our reading only tells of the first four. When the fourth brother dies he says to the king “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”
When all six of the brothers are gone, the king tries to persuade the mother not to allow her last son to be murdered too. He tries to reason with her and her son to give up their heritage and eat pork. Not surprisingly, the mother encourages her son to follow in his brother’s footsteps and accept the same fate. When the king finished killing the last brother, he then kills the mother.
The faith of the sons and mother in this story is really something for us to think about. They are brave souls who believe in God and what he stands for. God will never desert us, not even in death!
Peace and All Good!