Getting Ready. This Sunday’s first reading is the dramatic account of the martyrdom of seven sons in front of their mother. It comes at a time much closer historically to the time of Jesus. What is happening is that the Greek king, Antiochus Epiphanes, a brutal king, was seeking to make the entire world Greek. And, since the Jewish people had different religious laws, worship and diet, he sought to have them either live like Greeks or to kill them.
It should not be surprising though, when the religion of the Jewish people was threatened with an attempt at elimination, there arose people dedicated to living according to it most seriously. Such is the case with the sons. They will not follow the king’s command and eat pork in violation of the Jewish Law. And so they are killed.
The mother is unbelievably noteworthy in that she not only is forced to watch her sons die, all in the same day, but actively encourages them to be faithful to the Jewish Law. It is often the case that when faith is threatened people take it more seriously.
Getting Ready: The Deuterocanonicals
For many protestants, this story is in a book of the bible they do not accept as inspired. Why do Catholics? The answer lies in the translation used for the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures. At the time of Jesus, there were two lists of canons, or books used by Jews. One was a Hebrew translation used by the Samaritans and the Sadducees. The other, called the Septuagint, was a translation into Greek and was used by the Pharisees.
The overwhelming majority of times the Old Testament is quoted, the quote is taken from the Greek Septuagint. The Catholic Church, in 382, proclaimed the Old Testament canon was 46 books. Consider this quote:
“At the Council of Rome in 382, the Church decided upon a canon of 46 Old Testament books and 27 in the New Testament. This decision was ratified by the councils at Hippo (393), Carthage (397, 419), II Nicea (787), Florence (1442), and Trent (1546).
Further, if Catholics added the deuterocanonical books in 1546, then Martin Luther beat us to the punch: He included them in his first German translation, published the Council of Trent. They can also be found in the first King James Version (1611) and in the first Bible ever printed, the Gutenberg Bible (a century before Trent). In fact, these books were included in almost every Bible until the Edinburgh Committee of the British Foreign Bible Society excised them in 1825. Until then, they had been included at least in an appendix of Protestant Bibles. It is historically demonstrable that Catholics did not add the books, Protestants took them out.” (Catholic Answers)
Getting Ready: The Spiritual World
The gospel also enters into the debate between the Sadducees (who claim there is no resurrection) and the Pharisees. The challenge concerns to what degree do we believe in a spiritual world.
To seek to be getting ready, think about the spiritual world, especially those angels which help us. Getting ready can mean thinking about the grace of God. Getting ready can be seeking to enter into the mystery of Jesus being both human and divine. Getting Ready can be taking a moment simply to think about how God is really present in our life. Make getting ready a time to think about this question as you prepare for the Mass this Sunday.