A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Sunday, November 11, 2007


There has been a good deal of discussion about torture recently: whether it really is effective, whether a “ticking bomb” scenario really provides an exception to its immorality, and whether “water boarding” really is torture.

Today’s first reading (2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14) happens to involve a serious amount of torture, as a family is arrested and tortured to death because they would not violate the law of God.

The Lectionary omits several verses of this passage, in which some of the details of the torture are described, for they were horrific beyond modern imagining: they cut out the tongue of the first brother, scalped him, and cut off his hands and feet – all while he was still alive – and then they laid him on a large metal pan where he was seared to death. During this time he could also see his mother and brothers looking on, knowing that this same doom awaited them.

It is very unlikely that you or I would ever face torture of such a horrific intensity and magnitude or even its “modern” equivalents.

We may thank God that we may not be put to such a test, and yet we should take the opportunity of this reading to reflect on the challenges to our faith that we ourselves face.

Sadly, whereas the faithful men and women of old so often remained true to the law of God despite the most painful of tortures, you and I too often choose to break the rules of God rather than endure a little discomfort: from the discomfort of resisting the temptations of the flesh to the discomfort of being unpopular.

It is just a little thing, we rationalize, it doesn’t really mean anything – I still love God and that won’t change just because I... (fill in the blank).

(Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, be merciful to me - a sinner.)

The family in today’s first reading died slow, painful deaths rather than eat pork in violation of the law God gave to Moses and they did not even have the example of Christ, as you and I have.

May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – who suffered, died, and rose again for our sakes – give us the grace and the strength to be absolutely faithful to him and his truth, no matter what pain, discomfort, or loss we may fear or endure.

As St. Paul says in today’s second reading (2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5):

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself
and God our Father,
who has loved us

and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts
and strengthen them in every good deed and word.

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,
so that the word of the Lord
may speed forward and be glorified,
as it did among you,
and that we may be delivered
from perverse and wicked people,
for not all have faith.

But the Lord is faithful;
he will strengthen you
and guard you from the evil one.

We are confident of you in the Lord
that what we instruct you,
you are doing
and will continue to do.

May the Lord direct your hearts
to the love of God
and to the endurance of Christ.