Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Today’s first reading presents the vivid account of The Martyrdom of a Mother and Her Seven Sons from the second book of Maccabees. The passage presents a few important lessons: 1) the importance of faithfulness to God and 2) the wisdom of an eternal mindset.
The tradition of martyrdom in our faith is a powerful and inspiring, yet also tragic and gruesome. Today’s first reading is no different. In the passage, all seven sons and their mother are killed for not disobeying God. The mother offers encouragement to her youngest son, stating “I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things. In the same way humankind came into existence" (2 Maccabees 7:28). The mother, in her wisdom, reminds the son that all things have been created by God—including their own lives. The youngest son is reminded that, as part of creation, it is his duty to obey God, no matter how difficult.
It’s useful to reflect on whether we look approach God with the same humility as the youngest son. As humans, we have free will, intellect, and the ability to reason. God made us this way, even prior to the Fall of Man (i.e. Adam and Eve). God expects us to use our capacities, and I do not believe he is upset when we have difficulty understanding why a tragedy happened or are struggling with a Church teaching. There are virtues to be gained as we wrestle with God and the Church, namely trust and humility. We can and should trust that God has an eternal perspective; though events like illness and death were not part of God’s original plan for humanity, he has promised to work all things for our good—even the worst situations (cf. Romans 8:28). Additionally, we can have humility when we struggle with a Church teaching. We should still study, discuss, and pray over the particular issue at hand. But if we don’t find the answer or peace that we’re looking for right away, we should not turn our back on God and the Church. The Mother in today’s passage reminds us that we are part of God’s creation. God is our creator. His wisdom and knowledge far surpasses the smartest human being. We can have humility, trust that God knows best, and have confidence that he will help bring us to truth.
Lastly, the passage teaches us to have an eternal perspective. I’m sure most, if not every person reading this reflection has a struggle they are facing in life. Something that they wish they could change about their current situation. Though we hold onto faith and have confidence in God’s amazing power, we also know that our life here on earth will never be perfect. We can, however, find great joy in the promise that God will “wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain” once we reach heaven (Revelations 21:4).
As we have seen with the seven sons, their mother, and all martyrs for the faith, the joy of our promised salvation can allow us to remain faithful in even the toughest of challenges.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
When have I had a difficult time obeying God?
What made it difficult to obey God in that moment or situation?
How can I grow in the virtues of trust and humility and live with an eternal perspective?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Wipe every tear."
"Look at the heavens and the earth."
"I have been created by God."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Start thinking with an eternal perspective -- invite God into all of your decisions and ask Him to show you the larger impact and purpose.
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Today's Prayer was prepared by Liam Brady, an accountant in Chicago.
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