2 Macc 6:18-31; Ps 3 The Lord upholds me; Luke 19:1-10
What role does our elderly play in our society?
Many of them are ushered off to the local resident home or nursing facility and forgotten by family and friends as life goes on and the family and friends get on with life.
There they sit waiting for death. Now this may seem to be a harsh treatment of thing but nonetheless it does capture the reality of things. We have last the art of taking care of family. We struggle with valuing the lives of those who are aged, crippled, disfigured, hobbled, immobile and the like.
We put them out of our sight for as they out of sight out of mind. If we don't see them then we won't have to think about them and does we we can as i mentioned above get on with our life with less bother.
But there are those who sincerely invest in the elderly, and i don;t mean see it as an opportunity to make money though that is obvious. But there are family and friends who see value in the aged, elderly, those who have journey far and wide in life and love.
As they move toward the end of the earthly life, they are looked upon with respect and admiration regardless of their utility.
Which bring me to the first reading for today.
We encounter Eleazar who is described as "as man advanced in age and noble appearance."
He is elderly. He has lived and loved. He is drawing close to the end of his earthly life.
At the eve of life he is asked to compromise his faith by eating a pork chop.
Okay maybe not exactly a "pork chop" but pork which was seen as blasphemous and a sacrilege to the faithful jew and the nation of Israel.
Why? Because they were asked to abstain from pork as way of honoring God.
Yet though he chooses to not compromise faith and spit out the pork he is ridiculed and asked to pretend to eat it for the sake of his life, "they urged him to bring meat of his own providing, such as he could legitimately eat, and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice prescribed by the king; in this way he would escape the death penalty, and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him."
He asked not only to compromise his faith but also to pretend in such a way that he would give false witness to every one else.
The scripture describes Eleazar with the following, "But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood; and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God."
What a beautiful description and the power of witness.
Why because Eleazar wanted tone a good witness to the young as he says "At our age it would unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young people would think the ninety year old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I pretend for the sake of brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age."
So what does he do? Scripture says he "manfully" gives up his life and thus leave a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered holy laws.
All because of pork chop we are left with a noble witness and courageous example of fidelity.
Who says the little things don't matter? But Oh they do and add up as well as we see in the life of eleazar and thus become a "model of courage and unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation."
Even pork chops can be used to give glory to God and witness to the nations.
Today, don't overlook the small acts of fidelity. They add up huge in a lifetime of fidelity.