1st Reading – 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.
One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:
“What do you expect to achieve by questioning us?
We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”
At the point of death he said:
“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,
but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.
It is for his laws that we are dying.”
After him the third suffered their cruel sport.
He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,
and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:
“It was from Heaven that I received these;
for the sake of his laws I disdain them;
from him I hope to receive them again.”
Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage,
because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
After he had died,
they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.
When he was near death, he said,
“It is my choice to die at the hands of men
with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;
but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”
The title of 1 and 2 Maccabees is taken from the surname of Judas Maccabeus (1 Maccabees 2:4), the war hero in the fight for Jewish independence against Syria. The two books have separate authors. The first book is thought to have originally been written in Hebrew by a Palestinian Jew around 100 BC. The second book is believed to have been composed in Greek by an Alexandrian Pharisee about 124 BC, which means the second book was actually written before the first. Both books encompass a similar period in Jewish history, the first book covering 175 to 135 BC, and the second covering 175 to 161 BC.