In today’s readings, we meet two great characters of the Bible! The first is one who is probably very little known, the other very well known, especially with kids. He is Zacchaeus. You know the story…Zacchaeus is a little squirt of a guy who climbs up a tree to see Jesus. Jesus calls out to him and tells him He is going to dine in his home. Zacchaeus repents of his sinful ways and promises to repay four times to everyone he has cheated.
We find the story of Eleazar in 2 Maccabees 6. Eleazar is an old man of great faith, a pillar of the community and a role model. The king commanded that everyone eat pork, a forbidden act for the children of Israel. If they did not follow his command, they were put to death. The guys in charge of this liked Eleazar, and told him they would cut a deal with him. Just ACT like you’re eating the pork and we’ll let you slide. You don’t really have to eat it. But Eleazar wouldn’t do it. He knew that if he even faked it, he would lead people astray. So he went to a brutal death.
“This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.” Eleazar had every opportunity to take the easy way out. He didn’t really even have to sin. But he knew that people were watching, and he wasn’t willing to lead anyone astray. Do we have that same kind of courage exhibited by a 90 year-old man?
Father, forgive us for those times when we take the easy way out. Give us the grace and strength to always live out our faith, and be an example for others. Amen.