First Reading for this day – 2 MC 7:1, 20-31
What has God said to both Jews and Christians in Maccabees about life? (Some Protestants do not have Maccabees in their Bibles, but they should note that the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, was enjoined upon the Jews to be celebrated only in Maccabees. John 7 tells of Jesus going up to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast. So Jesus concurred with the Jews and honored the injunction of Maccabees as given by His Father and recorded in holy writ.)
“Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother,
who saw her seven sons perish in a single day,
yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage,
she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
“I do not know how you came into existence in my womb;
it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man’s beginning,
as he brings 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 his law.”
The response of this heroic woman’s son before his life was ended in accordance with an unjust law is also worth noting:
She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said:
“What are you waiting for?
I will not obey the king’s command.
I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses.
But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews,
will not escape the hands of God.”
Our laws do not excuse us before God this day or on our particular judgment day, so our choices matter for our eternity. What we choose to do with our freedom matters in life and in death. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to choose wisely and form our consciences as though our eternity depends on it.