Scripture: 1st Reading: 2Maccabees7,1,20-31; Resp. Psalm: Ps17,1,5-6,8,15; Gosp. Accl: Jn15,16; Gospel: Lk19,11-28
What is the value of a life lived without convictions and principles? What is the benefit in a life that has no ideals? What is the purpose of commitment to God if at the point of standing up to be counted, one denies all that one has lived his entire life for? What reward is there when faced with the choice between commitment that exposes one to death and compromise that temporarily prolongs one's life?
What profit is there in disobeying the express commands and precepts of God to please a human authority? In the face of material inducements and promises of riches, positions, privileges, how many believers, would stand on the side of faith and continue to be poor in the things of this world but rich in Christ?
The seven brothers and their mother who are the protagonists of today's first reading give us a different paradigm to what faith in Yahweh meant. For them, it was the radical and total commitment of one's entire life. This commitment consists in total and unflinching obedience to the law of God. This family was asked to partake of pork meat. The important idea here is not just the meat but to whom allegiance was to be paid: the seleucid pagan king who ruled Israel by proxy or Yahweh, the real and mighty Ruler of His people?
This entire family of seven brothers and their mother chose to be on the side of Yahweh. They believed nothing could separate them from the love of God. They knew that their sufferings were not worth comparing to the glory that would be given to them if they remained steadfast. They believed in the reality of eternal life as the reward for the just. They accepted martyrdom as a concrete example of their witnessing to Yahweh and their fidelity to His laws.
They were faithful to their commission. They held on to their conviction till the end. Our Lord talked about commission in today's gospel. In the parable of the talents, He mentioned fidelity to the commission given and corresponding responsibility to act on the commission and make a success of it. Our Lord told this parable to stress the fact that the kingdom would not appear immediately but that what was important was for everyone to be assiduous in the task assigned to him for the spread of the Master's kingdom.
Our Lord mentioned that the talents given to each are meant to be used for the advancement of the work of salvation. He requires of us today to be faithful and good servants. The seven brothers we read about in today's first reading were faithful to their commitment to Yahweh. They preferred their fidelity to the prolongation of their earthly life.
St. Cecilia, whose memorial we celebrate today, was also a faithful witness to our Lord. She was completely dedicated to our Lord and outstanding in her witnessing to Him. She endured horrifying tortures at the hands of the enemies of the faith to prove her total is love for Christ. She gave the supreme witness by dying for the faith instead of submitting to the immoral defilement if her body. May she intercede for us.
Let us pray: "O God, who gladden us each year with the feast day of Saint Cecilia, grant, we pray, that what has been devoutly handed down concerning this handmaid of yours may offer us examples to imitate and proclaim the wonders worked in his servants by Christ your Son." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.