The persecution of the Judaism ratchets up as Antiochus IV sends a Greek senator to force the jews to abandon their faith and participate in sacrifices to Zeus. Of course they refuse. The author of Maccabees then tells heroic stories of their resistance and martyrdom. The first is Eleazar, an old man, and then the mother of seven. These remembrances intend to stir up resistance even to death among the Jewish people. Naturally these heroic and defiant deaths only serve to deepen resistance and faithfulness. The rebellion becomes outright war; in the midst of it Antiochus IV Epiphanes dies after literally rotting from the inside out. The people are success and the Temple is purified and rededicated.

One of the points of the story is faith in the resurrection in vs. 9 which is why this narrative accompanies the Gospel. This means the encounter in the Gospel is not about marriage, but rather about the resurrection. The incident is all of II Maccabees 7, of which we only read a small section. The cofident faith of the seven sons and the mother are exaemplars.

One wonders how many contemporary American Catholics would die for their faith. Not very many of us at all. We’d become Islamic first, exactly as the people of Constantinople in 1453. We have a very “thin” faith.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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