November 16, 2021

By manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.”

The two books of Maccabees give us events that occurred in the second century B.C. when Seleucid kings attempted to wipe out Judaism in Palestine. This led to a revolt that resulted in liberating Israel from the grip of the pagans. The passage we have today deals with the witness given by Eleazar, one of the chief scribes. He was being forced to eat pork or even to simply pretend to be doing so (because of his piety and advanced age of 90) as a way to preserve his life.

The statement above from Eleazar’s speech gives the reason for his refusing to do so. He was consequently tortured and killed. The passage ends with the editorial comment, “This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.”

This is an example of why martyrs have always been revered in the church. Their lives and deaths reveal the depth of their commitment to God and as models by which we can be inspired and strengthened in our own lives. Is this not one of the reasons why we find the Mass so important? There we have the living example of the depth of Christ’s commitment to his mission and of his love for us. We join ourselves to him in his horrible death on the cross when we share the consecrated bread and wine in communion. Our “Amen” indicates our own commitment to live a committed life just as he did.

Let Us Pray:

O gracious Jesus, strengthen me so that I may never falter in my love for you and that I may appreciate the importance of the example I give to others.


Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Paul J. Bernier, SSS

Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015. His most recent book is A Eucharistic Spirituality: Inspired by Saint Peter Julian Eymard – Apostle of the Eucharist, which he co-authored with Jim Brown.