Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.
In today’s first reading, from the second book of Maccabees, we witness the courage and bravery of a mother of seven sons executed for refusing to violate God’s law. This woman, endowed with a mother’s heart and manly courage, exhorted her children to be brave in the face of death. How many moms would have such courage today? How many moms would encourage their children not to give into temptation? How many moms today would prefer their children die (in a state of grace) rather than sin? And mind you, all of her tears and suffering were due to the fact that the pagan king demanded that her sons eat pork! How many of us would stand strong for a small portion of God’s law?
Across the world there are millions of moms shedding tears for their children. They cry due to their children’s addictions, decisions and misguided lifestyles; while others, for their children’s fidelity, honor and confrontation with evil! What a difference faith, hope and love can make in a child’s life! What a difference good friends can make! Parents should be reminding their children to pick their friends well or to pick friends that are better than them!
Antiochus, the king, appealed to the youngest son while he was still alive, not merely with 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.” (Maccabees 7:20-31)
Am I willing to give up my friendship with God to make friends in "high" places? Do I have friends that make me a better man, a better woman? Do I have friends that lift up my heart?
Not too long ago, I spoke to a woman who loves to run in marathons. It is her passion! She participates in as many as she can and trains to win. She was very excited to tell me a personal story regarding her last marathon. I cannot remember if she ran in the Boston or New York City marathon, but there were plenty of people in the race. At the very start of the race, she was tripped by another runner and fell pretty hard to the ground. She had a hard time getting back up. Suddenly, from the front, a man turned around, ran back to her and helped her back up. Although marathons are long distance races, all serious competitors know that every second counts. She was surprised that a stranger would do that for her (because she would not have done it for him). Well, she thanked him and made a mental note of the competition number on his shirt. At the end of the race, she noticed that he had come in second place. She thought to herself, “If he had not helped me, this guy would have won the race.” She also thought, “He must have thought I was more important than winning.” In some mysterious way, this stranger helped this unknown woman come back to the faith; come back to Church.
This marathoner may have come in second place in the marathon, but he definitely came in first place in God’s race! He may not have known her, but he was definitely a friend to her. This woman learned that a friend is not necessarily someone who knows you; rather, it is someone who values you. And we all know that it is hard for someone to value you if they do not have values. Likewise, it is hard to be respected, if you do not respect yourself – if you do not demand respect!
Being a Christian is like a pearl of great value! The Lord invites us to be a gift to the world regardless of the consequences, pains and tortures - the Cross - we must carry.
Be that gift to the world! Multiply your talents! Where there are ten coins, transform them into ten cities. Where there are ten enemies, transform them into ten friends. Where there are ten friends, transform them into ten Christians!
The Lord said, “I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last.”
Be faithful to God’s Commandments. Be faithful to the Lord’s Laws so that one day you can hear these words, “Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in small matters; take charge!”