In our first reading today from 2 Maccabees 7, we meet yet another fascinating character. She is a mother who exhibits amazing faith and bravery. Some may think otherwise, but I think so, and I’ll tell you why in a moment. In the Gospel passage from Luke 19, Jesus tells a parable about three servants who are entrusted with gold coins. Each is rewarded according to how he used what was given to him. (Spoiler alert…it didn’t end well for one of them.) So will it be with us.
The mother in today’s first reading watched all of her seven sons tortured and killed in front of her in one day. They all refused to follow the king’s orders and eat pork. And the mother encouraged each of them. The king was willing to cut a deal with her if she would convince her youngest son to obey him. She said to her youngest, “Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death…” Her son obeyed her (and God) and went to a brutal death.
Some may say that the mother was crazy, in essence sentencing her son to death. But if you have children, you know that preserving the lives of our children is an even stronger instinct than self-preservation. Imagine how hard it must have been for that mother to tell her youngest, and only remaining son that. But, like any good mother, she knew what was best for her child. Perhaps not in a fleshly sense, but certainly in an eternal sense. Do we, as parents, have that same kind of courage? To tell our children that it is always better to follow the ways of God, no matter the cost? That our souls are more important than our bodies? Do we believe it ourselves?
Father, we thank you for the grace of parenthood. Help us, God, to always have what is best for our children in mind…to follow Jesus no matter what. Amen.