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A Reading from 2 Mc 6:18-31

Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man of advanced age and noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork. But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement, he spat out the meat, and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture, as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life. Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately, because of their long acquaintance with him, and 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. But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his 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.

He told them to send him at once to the abode of the dead, explaining: “At our age it would be 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 thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.”

Eleazar spoke thus, and went immediately to the instrument of torture. Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed, now became hostile toward him because what he had said seemed to them utter madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned and said: “The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him.” This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.


This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.

Who was Eleazar? Are there men like Eleazar today?

As the scripture explains Eleazar was an elderly scribe. He was a Jewish teacher of the law. The Jews were subjects of King Antiochus IV of Syria in the 2nd century BC. He wanted the Jews in Judea to become like his people, who were pagan. So Antiochus began a campaign to force the Jews to give up their religious practices, punishable by death. One of these practices was to avoid the consumption of pork. The Mosaic Law forbade followers to eat pork. As an example, the king sent troops out to force Jewish leaders to defile themselves and give up their religion. Eleazar was one of the respected Jewish leaders. The soldiers pried open Eleazar's mouth and shoved pork into it. Immediately, Eleazar spat it out. He would rather die than to disobey the Lord.

The king's men had a respect and admiration for Eleazar. They didn't want to see him executed. So, they suggested a plan, a trick. They would substitute the pork with a meat he could eat. He would pretend to eat the forbidden meat and his life would be spared. Eleazar thought about this but saw that this would not be good. He weighed his time left on earth and the lie, against the confusion it would cause the young Jews, possibly they would abandon their religion. He saw that his fellow Jews would think that he chose life rather than faithfulness to God. Eleazar decided to choose death. He bravely and joyfully faced martyrdom. While dying he spoke of his trust in God and the great joy in his heart for clinging to the Lord. (

Do we have men like Eleazar today?

Yes, there are some Catholic clergy and laymen who are willing to suffer punishment for speaking the truth. We need fearless leaders like Eleazar. Leaders who are seeking to preach and teach the message of Jesus Christ as Jesus himself explains in the Gospels, not the opinions of men. We need leaders who can speak the truth and are bold in speaking out rather than going along with those in power.

There are a few Eleanzars in our time. They speak about the Culture of Life and the Sanctity of Marriage and family. They teach the Gospel and teach people to think critically, to think Catholic.

We must pray for them to persevere and we must support and encourage them.

May God bless you!


PAPA Foundation
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