THE SERVANT GENERAL
EXEMPLARY LIFE OF VIRTUE
Today’s reading: 2 Maccabees 6:18-31
Today’s reading is about the martyrdom of Eleazar, an
old man who was one of the foremost scribes in Israel (2 Mc
6:18). How he died leaves “a model of courage and an
unforgettable example of virtue .... for the young”
(2 Mc 6:31).
To live pure requires great courage, especially since we live
in a world where living pure is ridiculed and assaulted. To
live pure is to love God so much that we are committed to
live our covenant, no matter what, including embracing the
crosses that come our way. So we look to Eleazar, who left
“to the young a noble example of how to die willingly
and generously for the revered and holy laws.” (2 Mc
How do we live a life of virtue? How do we live pure?
we must “be loyal to the holy laws given by God.”
(2 Mc 6:23b). God calls us to live chaste and holy lives.
God makes such clear by His commands in the Bible and by the
teachings of our Catholic Church. God is holy, we are called
to be holy as He is holy, thus we obey His holy laws.
Second, we must “have the courage to reject the food
which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life.”
(2 Mc 6:20). The world offers us the sinful pleasures of life,
the devil tempts us to accept, and our weak sinful flesh is
prone to doing so. We must have the courage to reject the
world, the flesh and the devil. We call upon the strength
Third, we should be open about our living out our faith and
a life of purity, and not “make such a pretense (that)
many young men would think (we) had gone over to an alien
religion.” (2 Mc 6:24). People should be able to tell
that we are true Catholics by the way we live. When in a secular
environment, or even a hostile environment, we are not to
act such that we just blend in, perhaps even participating
in impure acts (like telling green jokes or listening in to
stories that evoke sexual thoughts). We should not act in
ways where innocent watchers or listeners “would be
led astray by (us)” (2 Mc 6:25b).
Fourth, when afflicted due to our stand, we suffer “with
joy in (our) soul because of (our) devotion to (God).”
(2 Mc 6:30c). In the secular humanist world we live in, with
the anti-life forces forcing its diabolical agenda on the
whole world, those of us who strive to live pure will be afflicted.
It is not a question of “if” but “when”
and “how.” There will be crosses to embrace. When
we thus suffer for the sake of righteousness or for the cause
of Christ, then our posture is to rejoice! We are given the
privilege to walk the very path of Jesus. He went to the cross,
and if we follow in his footsteps, we too will be led to the
Fifth, we prefer “a glorious death to a life of defilement”
(2 Mc 6:19a). The culture war is about death and life. The
world offers life, but one that is defiled and so brings death.
God offers true life, but one that is achieved through death
to self. Our choice is about death and life. We fight for
life against the culture of death. We live life to the full,
but would prefer death rather than a life of impurity.
The old man Eleazar left a model and an example for the young.
The young who live pure will leave a model and example “for
the whole nation.” (2 Mc 6:31). Let the youth “(make)
up (their) mind in a noble manner” (2 Mc 6:23a) with
regard to living pure and choosing life. Then they will live
an “admirable life .... from childhood” (2 Mc
6:23c). Then, when they themselves grow old, they would be
“worthy of (their) years, the dignity of (their) advanced
age, the merited distinction of (their) gray hair” (2