Posted by: livingscripture | November 22, 2017

St. Cecilia



November 22, 2017

33rd Wednesday in Ordinary Time

St. Cecilia Virgin and Martyr

WORD of the DAY

It also 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, seeing her seven sons perish in a single day, bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.  Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly reason with manly emotion, she exhorted each of them in the language of their ancestors with these words: “Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age.  I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things.  In the same way humankind came into existence.  Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with your brothers. (2 Maccabees 7: 1, 20-21, 27-29)

How shall I live this Word?

In today’s first reading, we are the witnesses of the scene of the cruel martyrdom of seven brothers and of their heroic mother.  Here, the protagonist is not the cruel tyrant of that time, but the voice of Israel’s faith which for the first time proclaims aloud the certainty of the resurrection and of eternal life that will be given to the martyrs.  The historical period is that of King Antioch IV Epiphany (175-164 b. C.)  who tried to extend the cult of the Greek divinities even among the Jewish population.  It was a terrible time of persecution for all observers of Jewish worship and of the Law, according to the patriarchal traditions.  With all their strength, they opposed the pagan Hellenization of the Jews, systematically persecuted by the rulers of the time, the Seleucids.  Very quickly, this edifying story became a model followed by successive martyrdoms and contributed to instill courage and strength in those persecuted.

The passage we read pauses on the tender and moving affirmations of the mother of the Maccabee brothers in the face of her last and youngest son to be killed.  “Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with your brothers”.

Texts like this return today with burning actuality even for Christians of the third millennium! 

The Voice of G. Vannucci, Contemporary spiritual author 

Light again in our heart Your foolish love for risk, Your incredible trust in life.  Give us again the passion for our true life, the ardor to place before all else, the fulfillment of Your love.




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