It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Religious Persecution, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 7

The king continued the attempt to compel the Jews to forsake their religion. Seven brothers and their mother were arrested. The king had the one who was spokesman tortured while his family watched. The other brothers and their mother encouraged him to die nobly. One after another, five more brothers were also tortured, also died. Disturbing to us moderns is to read that the mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory.

Antioch had not expected this attitude. He felt that the mother was being contemptuous and reproachful. He offered the last brother, the youngest one, great riches and friendship if he would forsake Judaism. When the young man refused the offer, Antioch called the mother in and urged her to advise the youth to save himself. She complied. But, in their native language, she told her son not to fear the butcher, "Accept death, so that in God's mercy I may get you back again along with your brothers."

While she was still speaking, the young man announced that he would not renounce Judaism and that those who were doing evil to Jews would not escape the hands of God.

The king was angry and had this son tortured even worse than the others. Last of all, the mother died.

Please note: These people were persecuted because they considered their religion more important than what the king wanted. People in our time may complain about their suffering on behalf of their religion,  need to think about what really they are being asked to give up. Someone who has written on this topic is Rachel Held Evans, who has asked us to drop our persecution complex,

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