Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(II Maccabees 6:18-31; Luke 19:1-10)

There is a cliché saying that old age with all its limitations is better than the alternative, meaning death.  Eleazar in the reading from II Maccabees today disproves that line.  At once he shows where true glory lies and how to attain it.

The situation is hardly impossible although it may seem far-fetched in many societies today.  Eleazar is coaxed to fake eating pork, prohibited in the Jewish diet, in order to conform to the dictates of the cultural imperialists of his time.  Made wise with his years, Eleazar realizes that old men and women are to teach youth the virtues of loyalty and devotion.  Even though it will cost him his life, he knows that he must not lead younger people astray by pretending to eat the tabooed meat.  Of course, he realizes as well that his persecutors could only spare his physical life.  They cannot bestow upon him eternal life which comes as a gift from God to those who do his will.

Too often today old people emulate youth rather than vice versa.  It is not that young people have nothing to teach the elderly.  Some demonstrate edifying toleration for different kinds of people that is worthy of imitation.  Nevertheless, as we grow old, we hopefully become wise and pass our wisdom to younger generations.