October 20, 2007 – 2 Maccabees – The Souls of the Faithful DepartedTHE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE notes tell us that the second book of Maccabees (describing events from the time of the high priest Onias III and King Selucid IV in 180 B.C.E. to the defeat of Nicanor’s army in 161 B.C.E.) is not a sequel to the first (describing events surrounding Judas Maccabeus from 175 B.C.E. to 134 B.C.E.). Instead, it gives a theological interpretation to the era’s history, with lots of emphasis on God’s interventions on behalf of man and less on the events themselves. The Maccabeus family began a revolt against pagan rulers and this book gives meaning to the acts of purifying, restoring and rebuilding. This is something which nations and people can engage in . . . and it is something which we as individuals must do if we are to be comfortable in God’s light.
One of the truly important themes we see in this book is the development of the theme of “the resurrection of the just on the last day, the intercession of the saints in heaven for people living on earth, and the power of the living to offer prayers and sacrifices for the dead”. (Senior 585) This is very fitting for this time of year when we approach All Saints and All Souls Days and when we remember those who have died and moved on to the next leg of our pilgrimage toward God.
Each night before I close my eyes I say, “Good-night, sweet dreams, I love you”, to my Mother and Dad . . . no matter where I am or what I am doing. Each morning as I step out of the door of my house, I wink at a picture of Mother and Dad with my three oldest siblings – when everyone was so young and so innocent – to say “Good morning, see you later for supper”. Sometimes when a day or a week has been particularly trying, I pause to connect with them; and like the good parents they are, they send me a message, an embrace, a pat on the back, a hand under the elbow. They never scold. They always encourage.Once, during a particularly difficult time not long ago, I had the uncanny feeling that I was being watched by someone who loved me. At first it was a bit frustrating because each time I turned to see who stood outside my classroom door, or who might be sitting in the passenger seat of the car, or who might have just stepped into my kitchen . . . there was no one physically present. Yet I knew that I was constantly accompanied by someone who had laced my shoes, brushed my hair, sat by my sick bed, calmed my fears so often and so well. Mother and Dad loved us dearly when they were still here with us in this dimension. They love us still. And we three siblings who remain often feel their presence. We know they are happy. We know that they are in God’s light. We know that they await us and will be there to welcome us. We know that there is truly nothing to fear.
Good night, sweet dreams, I love you, Mother and Dad. Thank you . . .
Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.520. Print.
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