We are nearing the end of the liturgical year. Today’s readings remind us that our own lives will draw to a close one day, and we can be certain that the Lord will encourage, strengthen, and save us—both now and at the last. The astonishing story of the Maccabees invigorates our faith as we behold an entire family willing to die rather than deny the Law of Moses. The psalm response echoes the faithful cries of the Maccabees: “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God.” That same confidence appears in Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. “The Lord is faithful,” he testifies; “he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” In the Gospel, Jesus explains just how long God’s protection will endure. The children of God whom God guards, Jesus says, will live forever like angels.
ALL TOO REAL
Some thinkers laugh at religion, accusing believers of making up the idea of an all-powerful God in heaven just to comfort themselves. The Maccabees story turns that argument to dust. One after another, seven brothers and their mother accept torture and death because of their faith in God. Their religious belief brings not sugary comfort, but excessive cruelty. All the king asks them to do is to eat “forbidden” meat. If the Maccabees could agree that their religious laws are based on made-up fairy tales, then how easy it would be to ignore the Mosaic prohibition against eating pork! The king promises to make the last son rich and happy if he gives in. Instead, the faithful young Israelite holds firm to his religion and endures unspeakable torture. Religious belief, for the Maccabees, is no “opiate,” no painkiller. No, they testify to the truth that God is real, and that following the Lord in discipleship can be difficult.
God is real. With complete faith in God’s intimate love and mercy, believers face both joyful and tragic circumstances with confidence. Saint Paul prays for us to know this confidence: “May our Lord . . . encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” We join Saint Paul in this prayer, asking the Lord to give us the strength to speak and act rightly.
Jesus encourages us at all times. He gives us hope that God’s strength in us will grow, making us worthy to live forever in heaven. There, in paradise, we will no longer know death. As Jesus says in our Gospel today, we will be “like angels.” Even though our lives on this earth must end, we live in hope. We may not be asked to die as martyrs, like the Maccabees, but every moment of every day, God offers us the very same hope and strength that helped the martyrs remain faithful to the end.
Also in this bulletin:
- Spanish Evangelization Retreat
- Don’t forget to vote!
- Veterans Day Holiday – Office Closed
- Additional Confession Times Continue
- Vocation Awareness Week is Nov. 6-12
- Pray the rosary with us