It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. One of them, acting as their spokesman, said, ‘What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.’
And when he was at his last breath, he said, ‘You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.’
After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, and said nobly, ‘I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.’
As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man’s spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
After he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way. When he was near death, he said, ‘One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!’
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Billy Graham once told this apocryphal story about Albert Einstein.
Einstein was travelling by train one day when the conductor came through punching tickets. Einstein became flustered as he searched for his lost ticket. “No worries, Dr. Einstein; I’m sure you bought one,” said the conductor. As he was about to pass to the next car, the conductor turned to see Einstein on his hands and knees frantically looking for his ticket. The conductor rushed back: “Dr. Einstein, don’t worry! We know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket.” Einstein looked up at the conductor and sighed, “I know who I am, too. The problem is I don’t know where I’m going.”
This is a common theme in today’s readings, including today’s Gospel passage, Luke 20:27-38. As people of faith, we not only know who we are, but we also know where we’re going. This hope gives us courage and sustains us in the midst of any trial.
Prayer for Christian Martyrs
Lord, so great is our love for you
That even though we walk in a world
where speaking your name can mean certain death
Your faithful still speak it
And speak it all the louder.
Help us work for a world where all may speak their creeds
And pray their prayers
Without fear of violence.
Hear the prayers of those who abide with you
in dangerous times
and in dark valleys,
And who die with your name on their lips.
Draw them quickly to your side
Where they might know eternal peace.
—Prayer published on the Catholic Relief Services websitePlease share the Good Word with your friends!