Wednesday, 22 November 2023. Read 2 Maccabees 7:1,20-31, Ps. 17:1,5-6,8,15, Luke 19:11-28

“Antiochus not only appealed to him in words but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his fathers. ... While she was still speaking, the young man said, ‘What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command...’” (2 Maccabees 7:24-30)

Today, we read the gory account of persecution under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. Seven brothers and their mother were arrested for their refusal to partake in idol worship. After the death of the sixth, Antiochus, moved by shame at the boys’ courage, decided to lure the youngest of them with riches and political power. Just as King Antiochus sought to persuade the boy with riches, many young men and women today have sold their souls to the devil, following the mantra: “Get rich or die trying.”

To be rich is not a sin, but when one’s riches come from the rejection of God, such riches are not worth having. If your source of income involves going against God’s commandments, illegalities or worse still, taking the life of others, you have placed riches above God. It is better to be content with little than to derive comfort from ill-gotten wealth. It is better to accept persecution than to lose your soul for money.

When the king saw that the young man would not bow to his offer of riches, he turned to his mother, hoping she would convince him. Using her native language, she told the boy: “Do not be afraid of this butcher. Do not disgrace your brothers. Accept death.” With this boost from the mother, the youngest son said to the king: “What are you waiting for? Go ahead. You can kill me, but I will not obey you.” How many mothers (and fathers) would offer such advice to their children today?” 

While a lot of parents provide proper upbringing to their children, some encourage their children to go into various crimes (or worship the devil) to make money. For instance, you know your child is not working, but you notice that your child lives in an expensive house, drives exotic cars, wears expensive clothes, jewellery, etc. What would you do? There is hardship in our land today, but this is not an excuse for evil. Even from an early age, teach your children that money is not a god. The end does not justify the means.

Avoid the worship money, but this does not entail idleness or burying your talents. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus told a parable to those expecting the kingdom of God to come immediately. The world will end one day, but in the meantime, we must get busy with our talents. Whatever gift, idea, talent or special ability God has given you is meant to make the world better than you met it.

Saint of the Day: Saint Cecilia. At a very early age, she vowed her virginity to God, but her parents married her off to Valerian of Trastevere. Cecilia told her new husband that an angel accompanied her, but he must be purified to see it. He agreed to the purification and was baptised; returning from the ceremony, he found her in prayer accompanied by a praying angel. The angel placed a crown on each of their heads. Valerian asked the angel a favour: that his brother be baptised. The brothers developed a ministry of giving proper burial to martyred Christians. In turn, they were arrested and martyred. Cecilia buried them at her villa on the Appian Way and was arrested for the action. She was ordered to sacrifice to idols; when she refused, she was suffocated and later beheaded. St. Cecilia is the Patron Saint of musicians, composers, poets, singers and bodily purity.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, teach me to love you above all things on earth. Free me from the lure of riches, especially if it compromises my faith. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saint Cecilia, Virgin, Martyr. Bible Study: 2 Maccabees 7:1,20-31, Ps. 17:1,5-6,8,15, Luke 19:11-28).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu