This saying is trustworthy:
If f we have died with him, we shall also live with him.
2 Timothy 2:11
It is Monday morning. The deadline for this “Liturgical note” sits at the top of my to-do list. Sipping my coffee, I take a fresh glance at the readings which will be proclaimed this weekend.
The first reading from the Second Book of Maccabees seems like a dramatic moment in a Netflix miniseries. The torture of the seven brothers and their mother is vividly gruesome. To make things worse, what we hear proclaimed today is an ABRIDGED VERSION.
Feeling overwhelmed, I procrastinate by opening my yahoo news feed. Before I write more about what Ii find this let me go back to today’s scripture reading.
The Maccabees were a group of Jewish people who preserved the faith during a time of intense persecution. Their valor and success are integral to the Jewish celebration of Hanukah.
You may ask why this book is part of our (Catholic) bible? More importantly, you may wonder why the crafters of the lectionary decided to include it on the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary time. I would suggest two reasons:
- It is a story of fidelity (i.e faithfulness) to the law.
- It tells of God’s promise that those who are faithful will have a future beyond death. *
* hence the quote from Paul’s letter to Timothy at the top of this page.
This brings me to the headline on my yahoo feed that continues to be part of my prayer and reflection:
“At the age of 95, Jimmy Carter says he’s “completely at ease with death”.
Despite living what many would consider to be an extraordinary life, the former president continues to call himself “a simple peanut farmer”. He lives in the same modest home that he lived in before he became president. At 95 he finds the time to teach Sunday School and the energy to participate in building homes for Habitat for Humanity.
President Carter may not be a hero like the seven brothers and their mother who refused to renounce their faith when faced with torture and death. He is, however what gerontologists call a super-senior. More importantly he is an example of what it is to live a life of fidelity and trust in Christ’s promise of eternal life.
I have selected Stand By Me (#633) as our offertory hymn as it highlights God’s faithfulness during times of trial.
We will also sing Tis A Gift to be Simple (#518) as a reminder that faithful living need not be dramatic or headline catching. It can be as simple as reconsidering how we spend our time and moving service higher up our to-do lists.
Last, but not least; we will conclude our liturgies by honoring our veterans in the closing blessing and by singing Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory (#577)
Blessed to be in ministry with you at St. Mary’s