About John Lilburne
0845 L Wed 21 Nov 2001
Today is the memorial of the "Presentation of the Virgin
Mary", which has optional readings for Mass. But I am continuing
with the usual first reading from 2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31. Here
is the text from the Australian lectionary, which uses the Jerusalem
There were seven brothers who were arrested with their mother.
The king tried force them to taste pig's flesh, which the Law
forbids, by torturing them with whips and scourges.
The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honourable
remembrance, for she watched the death of seven sons in the course
of a single day, and endured it resolutely because of her hopes
in the Lord. Indeed she encouraged each of them in the language
of their ancestors; filled with noble conviction, she reinforced
her womanly argument with manly courage, saying to them, 'I do
not know how you appeared in my womb; it was not I who endowed
you with breath and life, I had not the shaping of your every
part. It is the creator of the world, ordaining the process of
man's birth and presiding over the origin of all things, who
in his mercy will most surely give you back both breath and life,
seeing that you now despise your own existence for the sake of
Antiochus thought he was being ridiculed, suspecting insult
in the tone of her voice; and as the youngest was still alive
he appealed to him not with mere words but with promises on oath
to make him both rich and happy if he would abandon the traditions
of his ancestors; he would make him his Friend and entrust him
with public office. The young man took no notice at all, and
so the king then appealed to the mother, urging her to advise
the youth to save his life. After a great deal of urging on his
part she agreed to try persuasion on her son. Bending over him,
she fooled the cruel tyrant with these words, uttered in the
language of their ancestors, 'My son, have pity on me; I carried
you nine months in my womb and suckled you three years, fed you
and reared you to the age you are now and cherished you. I implore
you, my child, observe heaven and earth, consider all that is
in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of what did not
exist, and that mankind comes into being in the same way. Do
not fear this executioner, but prove yourself worthy of your
brothers, and make death welcome, so that in the day of mercy
I may receive you back in your brothers' company.'
She had scarcely ended when the young man said, 'What are
you all waiting for? I will not comply with the king's ordinance;
I obey the ordinance of the Law given to our ancestors through
Moses. As for you, sir, who have contrived every kind of evil
against the Hebrews, you will certainly not escape the hands
The reading highlight the role of a community in faith --
it is not just the son's faith, but he is supported by his mother.
Last night I went to the MCG and saw a soccer game between Australia
and Uruguay. I have not watched many games of soccer (although
I saw Australia play at the MCG in 1997) and am not particularly
enthusiastic about it.
But put me in a crowd of 85 000 people, singing the national
anthem and heaps of other songs. I was rejoicing with everyone
else when Kewell kicked to Agostino, who was pushed, received
a penalty, which Muscat kicked.
Against a solid team, the promises of the king for money,
happiness and social standing were unconvincing.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 21 November 2001.