In 2nd Maccabees in this Sunday's first reading we heard a powerful story of bravery and courage. The story is of seven brothers and their mother arrested and tortured for their faith in God. They were being forced to eat pork in violation of God's law, under penalty of death. Each stood his ground, each remained unflinching, each declared their loyalty. And each died.
How foolish and unnecessary to die for the sake of a dietary law that was meant to guide a people to good health. Even if that law came from God, was it worth dying for? Was it not more prudent to save your life, and be able then to live to worship God in the future? Could they not have remained true to God even if giving in to this silly dictate?
Obviously for them the answer is NO! It wasn't the dietary law that mattered, it was what that law indicated - that their entire life, even beyond this existence, rested in their relationship to a God who knew them, loved them, and drew them uniquely to himself. Their life must be centered upon the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, upon their oneness to him with all that this entailed (even if it meant these pesky dietary laws that the king wanted them to disobey), upon their loyalty to a God who was a Father to them. Nothing else mattered ... not even retaining life in this world ... because true and ultimate life was found in him. They chose to die that they light live. They chose to be loyal to the author of life rather than to one who could take their lives. Everything else was secondary. Talk about brave hearts!
Their God (our God) has given us an even more life giving, unique and loving relationship with himself through his Son, Jesus Christ. He is what is essential for us, for without him we are nothing. He calls us to be brave and courageous in the midst of the challenges that we face. Can we die to self in order to live with him?
I realize that it has been almost a week since the last post (sorry), but I must make a correction for those that remember that far back. I mentioned Paul Shannon's "Adventure Time" TV show in the Pittsburgh area from years ago, and I mentioned "knish".
"Knish" (a mop head puppet), was not on the Paul Shannon show, but rather the Hank Stohl show.
Paul had a character named Nosmo King and a great jazz musician by the name of Joe Negri on his show.
Just wanted to make the correction for all of the local trivia fans.