FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
AN EXEMPLARY LIFE OF VIRTUE
November 15, 2011
Today’s reading: 2 Maccabees 6:18-31
Today’s reading is about the martyrdom of Eleazar, an old man who was one of the foremost scribes in Israel (2 Mc 6:18). How he died leaves “a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue …. for the young” (2 Mc 6:31).
To live pure requires great courage, especially since we live in a world where living pure is ridiculed and assaulted. To live pure is to love God so much that we are committed to live our covenant, no matter what, including embracing the crosses that come our way. So we look to Eleazar, who left “to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.” (2 Mc 6:28).
How do we live a life of virtue? How do we live pure?
First, we must “be loyal to the holy laws given by God.” (2 Mc 6:23b). God calls us to live chaste and holy lives. God makes such clear by His commands in the Bible and by the teachings of our Catholic Church. God is holy, we are called to be holy as He is holy, thus we obey His holy laws.
Second, we must “have the courage to reject the food which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life.” (2 Mc 6:20). The world offers us the sinful pleasures of life, the devil tempts us to accept, and our weak sinful flesh is prone to doing so. We must have the courage to reject the world, the flesh and the devil. We call upon the strength of God.
Third, we should be open about our living out our faith and a life of purity, and not “make such a pretense (that) many young men would think (we) had gone over to an alien religion.” (2 Mc 6:24). People should be able to tell that we are true Catholics by the way we live. When in a secular environment, or even a hostile environment, we are not to act such that we just blend in, perhaps even participating in impure acts (like telling green jokes or listening in to stories that evoke sexual thoughts). We should not act in ways where innocent watchers or listeners “would be led astray by (us)” (2 Mc 6:25b).
Fourth, when afflicted due to our stand, we suffer “with joy in (our) soul because of (our) devotion to (God).” (2 Mc 6:30c). In the secular humanist world we live in, with the anti-life forces forcing its diabolical agenda on the whole world, those of us who strive to live pure will be afflicted. It is not a question of “if” but “when” and “how.” There will be crosses to embrace. When we thus suffer for the sake of righteousness or for the cause of Christ, then our posture is to rejoice! We are given the privilege to walk the very path of Jesus. He went to the cross, and if we follow in his footsteps, we too will be led to the cross.
Fifth, we prefer “a glorious death to a life of defilement” (2 Mc 6:19a). The culture war is about death and life. The world offers life, but one that is defiled and so brings death. God offers true life, but one that is achieved through death to self. Our choice is about death and life. We fight for life against the culture of death. We live life to the full, but would prefer death rather than a life of impurity.
The old man Eleazar left a model and an example for the young. The young who live pure will leave a model and example “for the whole nation.” (2 Mc 6:31). Let the youth “(make) up (their) mind in a noble manner” (2 Mc 6:23a) with regard to living pure and choosing life. Then they will live an “admirable life …. from childhood” (2 Mc 6:23c). Then, when they themselves grow old, they would be “worthy of (their) years, the dignity of (their) advanced age, the merited distinction of (their) gray hair” (2 Mc 6:23b).
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