Is there a good mother that wouldn’t do anything to keep her sons safe from harm? Of course not, unless she is the mother in the Book of Maccabees reading we hear today. This incredible woman not only endured watching each of her sons being killed for their faith, but actually encouraged her beloved sons to give up their lives for the Lord.
Hmmm …. does this story foretell that of another courageous mother we know? One who understood and accepted the sacrifice that would break her heart.
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.”
So, who do we belong to? We belong to the one whose sacrifice redeems us. The one who will give us back both breath and life.