Today’s first reading was one of my favorites, and one of the most dramatic in all of Scripture. This week we’ve been hearing from Maccabees, and after the inspiring story of Eleazar yesterday, I knew we were due to hear about one of the bravest mothers in the world. (Please, go read it now — here — it’s straight out of a movie.)
After watching her sons die before her eyes, she is encouraged to dissuade the youngest from his heroism. She goes through the motions of dissuading him, then bends down and whispers in his ear, “Don’t disappoint me, boy. Have the courage to die.” And he did. He had the courage to resist eating the pork and face the executioner.
To our modern ears, while we may be impressed by the courage of these people, but we might also be tempted to ask, “Really? What’s the big deal?” After all, this is supposedly just about pork.
Eleazar died at age 90, willing to be killed rather than eat pork.
Really? What’s the big deal? It’s just a little pork.
But it was so much more… as evidence by the lengths to which Antiochus goes in order to dissuade the aforementioned youngest son:
“The king appealed to him, not with mere words, but with promises on oath, to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs: he would make him his Friend and entrust him with high office.” (2 Mc 7:24)
Really, Antiochus? What’s the big deal?
At the heart of it, it wasn’t about pork. It was about obedience and faithfulness to God rather than Antiochus. The Jewish people were a threat because they recognized that true freedom came not from this world. They understood their loyalty belonged to a power far greater than any government.
The parallel is clear to us. The Church is a threat to our modern world. Do we really think this fight is about birth control? A simple pill?
We’ve been asked by the modern world — is that Pill really worth losing insurance, jobs, businesses, hospitals, schools? A Pill? What’s the big deal?
We could ask the same same of the Administration. Just let us run our businesses the way we believe we should. Is the Pill really such a big deal?
The battle is not about the Pill. It’s about Christ and his Church.