Wed 18 November
Wednesday of week 33 of the year, or Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
2 Maccabees 7:1,20-31
There were seven brothers who were arrested with their mother. The king tried to force them to taste pigâ€™s flesh, which the Law forbids, by torturing them with whips and scourges. But the mother was especially admirable and worthy of honourable remembrance, for she watched the death of seven sons in the course of a single day, and endured it resolutely because of her hopes in the Lord. Indeed she encouraged each of them in the language of their ancestors; filled with noble conviction, she reinforced her womanly argument with manly courage, saying to them, â€˜I do not know how you appeared in my womb; it was not I who endowed you with breath and life, I had not the shaping of your every part. It is the creator of the world, ordaining the process of manâ€™s birth and presiding over the origin of all things, who in his mercy will most surely give you back both breath and life, seeing that you now despise your own existence for the sake of his laws.â€™
Antiochus thought he was being ridiculed, suspecting insult in the tone of her voice; and as the youngest was still alive he appealed to him not with mere words but with promises on oath to make him both rich and happy if he would abandon the traditions of his ancestors; he would make him his Friend and entrust him with public office. The young man took no notice at all, and so the king then appealed to the mother, urging her to advise the youth to save his life. After a great deal of urging on his part she agreed to try persuasion on her son. Bending over him, she fooled the cruel tyrant with these words, uttered in the language of their ancestors, â€˜My son, have pity on me; I carried you nine months in my womb and suckled you three years, fed you and reared you to the age you are now (and cherished you). I implore you, my child, observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of what did not exist, and that mankind comes into being in the same way. Do not fear this executioner, but prove yourself worthy of your brothers, and make death welcome, so that in the day of mercy I may receive you back in your brothersâ€™ company.â€™
She had scarcely ended when the young man said, â€˜What are you all waiting for? I will not comply with the kingâ€™s ordinance; I obey the ordinance of the Law given to our ancestors through Moses. As for you, sir, who have contrived every kind of evil against the Hebrews, you will certainly not escape the hands of God.â€™
Psalm or canticle
While the people were listening, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and they imagined that the kingdom of God was going to show itself then and there. Accordingly he said, â€˜A man of noble birth went to a distant country to be appointed king and afterwards return. He summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. â€œDo business with theseâ€ he told them â€œuntil I get back.â€ But his compatriots detested him and sent a delegation to follow him with this message, â€œWe do not want this man to be our king.â€
Now on his return, having received his appointment as king, he sent for those servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in and said, â€œSir, your one pound has brought in ten.â€ â€œWell done, my good servant!â€ he replied â€œSince you have proved yourself faithful in a very small thing, you shall have the government of ten cities..â€ Then came the second and said, â€œSir, your one pound has made five.â€ To this one also he said, â€œAnd you shall be in charge of five cities.â€ Next came the other and said, â€œSir, here is your pound. I put it away safely in a piece of linen because I was afraid of you; for you are an exacting man: you pick up what you have not put down and reap what you have not sown.â€ â€œYou wicked servant!â€ he said â€œOut of your own mouth I condemn you. So you knew I was an exacting man, picking up what I have not put down and reaping what I have not sown? Then why did you not put my money in the bank? On my return I could have drawn it out with interest.â€ And he said to those standing by, â€œTake the pound from him and give it to the man who has ten pounds.â€ And they said to him, â€œBut, sir, he has ten pounds . . .â€ â€œI tell you, to everyone who has will be given more; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
â€œBut as for my enemies who did not want me for their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence.â€â€™
When he had said this he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
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Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright Â© 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. For on-line information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet web site at http://www.randomhouse.com.
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By Matthew Warner - Nov 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm