2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14
There were seven brothers who were arrested with their mother. The king tried to force them to taste pig’s flesh, which the Law forbids, by torturing them with whips and scourges. One of them, acting as spokesman for the others, said, ‘What are you trying to find out from us? We are prepared to die rather than break the laws of our ancestors.’
With his last breath the second brother exclaimed, ‘Inhuman fiend, you may discharge us from this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up, since it is for his laws that we die, to live again for ever.’
After him, they amused themselves with the third, who on being asked for his tongue promptly thrust it out and boldly held out his hands, with these honourable words, ‘It was heaven that gave me these limbs; for the sake of his laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again.’ The king and his attendants were astounded at the young man’s courage and his utter indifference to suffering.
When this one was dead they subjected the fourth to the same savage torture. When he neared his end he cried, ‘Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men’s hands, yet relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by him; whereas for you there can be no resurrection, no new life.’
2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who has given us his love and, through his grace, such inexhaustible comfort and such sure hope, comfort you and strengthen you in everything good that you do or say.
Finally, brothers, pray for us; pray that the Lord’s message may spread quickly, and be received with honour as it was among you; and pray that we may be preserved from the interference of bigoted and evil people, for faith is not given to everyone. But the Lord is faithful, and he will give you strength and guard you from the evil one, and we, in the Lord, have every confidence that you are doing and will go on doing all that we tell you. May the Lord turn your hearts towards the love of God and the fortitude of Christ.
Some Sadducees – those who say that there is no resurrection – approached him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, that if a man’s married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers. The first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died Now, at the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife since she had been married to all seven?’
Jesus replied, ‘The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all men are in fact alive.’
“I shall be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory, O Lord”
I used to have a recurring nightmare for years. In this particular dream, I was brought before a judge, who asked me to make a public statement that I did not believe Jesus was my Lord and Savior. I remember the anxiety and stress of that moment. Strangely, I also remember the immense intensity of the temptation to do that in order to save my life. The words the judge spoke also stuck with me, so much so that I can even remember it today: “Just say that you don’t think that Jesus is your Lord…it’s so easy… you can go home after that!”.
Because of this dream, I have always wondered (actually… it is more like fear) what I would do if I were put in the situation one day. Would I turn on my Lord? Would I be able to stand up to torture and death like what happened to the brothers in the first reading of today?
I got my answer one day when I attended a talk by the Archbishop of Singapore, the most reverend William Goh. He exalted us to not even worry about it or even think about such a thing… because if and when the time comes, God would give us the strength and wisdom to act accordingly! What wonderful faith! I also realized that my fears came about because I had been looking at this from the angle of my personal strength. I had forgotten about the strength that God alone could give me!
Another realization I had was that the brothers were also able to stand up for their faith because of their support for each other. I have also experienced this in my own life, as brothers and sisters of the community support each other through all the trials and challenges together.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer: Lord, help us to always be able to stand up for our faith. Be with us when we face challenges, especially when we are called upon to stand up for You.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for the gift of community; through which You give us strength to walk our lives in faith. Thank you for not giving us more than what we can bear. Praise you Jesus!