Read 2 Maccabees 6:18-31, Ps. 3:2-7, Luke 19:1-10

“Such pretence is not worthy of our time of life,” he said, “lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien religion, and through my pretence, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age.” (2 Maccabees 6:24-25)

In today’s first reading, we are presented with the story of Eleazer, a Jewish religious leader held in high esteem by the people. Given his position as a man who could influence the people, Eleazer was captured during the persecution of King Antiochus Epiphanes. He was asked to either eat meat sacrificed to idols publicly or face the death sentence.

Some of his friends said: “Sir, you don’t have to eat the meat dedicated to the gods; just bring your meat from your house and eat it in our presence.” They offered Eleazer an easy way out. By eating meat brought from his house in the public arena, he wouldn’t sin. However, by so doing, many would think he is eating meat sacrificed to idols.

A few days ago, we heard Jesus say: “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea than he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:1-2). Eleazer chose to die rather than lead others astray. If he had consented to their plan, his life would have been spared, but he would have lost his integrity. The men enforcing the plan of King Antiochus would have said to the people: “If your role model, Eleazar, is doing it, what is wrong with it?”

Cherish your integrity; stop trying to be two-faced or diplomatic with evil. It is not enough to denounce evil with our lips; we must denounce it with our actions. We must never give anyone the wrong impression. Are you a leader in any capacity? Do you have people looking up to you as their mentor? Then, stop trying to be hot and cold simultaneously. To such persons, God says: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:14-17)

Zacchaeus was a rich man, but he lacked integrity. He could have arranged a meeting with Jesus, but he was scared that Jesus would turn it to him because everyone knew his source of wealth. He climbed a tree to catch a glimpse, but Jesus spotted him and said: “Come down, for I must eat at your house today.” This alone was scandalous to the people

Having been so honoured, Zacchaeus felt he needed to do something to restore his lost integrity. He announced that for everyone he had defrauded, he would restore to them fourfold. Jesus was very impressed and said: “Salvation has come into this house.” Cherish your integrity. If you lose it, you might not get the chance, like Zacchaeus, to redeem your image before you die.

Saint of the Day: Blessed Virgin Mary. We remember that day that Mary, as a little child, was presented in the Temple where, according to tradition, she was educated. On this day, the parents of Mary, Saints Joachim and Anne, brought their baby to the Temple and dedicated her to God.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, take my heart, body, and mind. Henceforth, it is for you alone that I live. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bible Study: 2 Maccabees 6:18-31, Ps. 3:2-7, Luke 19:1-10).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu