Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From the Readings for 11/21

"It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.

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.'"

(2 Maccabees)

Oh, what a heart-tugger this reading is! And what a mother! I can never hear or read that passage without a pang of intense sorrow and admiration for her. To see your seven sons killed before your very eyes, and to respond as she did.... what absolute grace, what supernatural strength. This, indeed, was a mother who knew what her life's purpose was: to bring her children to salvation. And her trust was such that she was able to not only endure, but encourage them in the sacrifice of their own lives for the sake of faithfulness. Lord, grant all mothers the same courage, the same trust, the same resolve!

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