November 21, 2023
by Cindy Murphy McMahon
Creighton University's Office of Marketing and Communications
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 498

2 Maccabees 6:18-31
Psalms 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Luke 19:1-10

Praying Ordinary Time


Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Possible Bulletin Announcments
to tell your congregation
about the Praying Advent resources.

After reading today’s Old Testament passage, my initial thought was how God later revealed to Christians in the New Testament (through Jesus’ own words in the Gospel of Mark that food in and of itself does not make a person unclean and through Peter’s vision in the Acts of the Apostles), that foods were not impure, lifting almost all of the dietary restrictions the people had followed as faithful Jewish believers.

And, based on that knowledge, my primary feeling was sadness upon reading in Maccabees that Eleazar was actually choosing to die for something that God would later not even require. I felt guilty that this was my primary feeling, but I continued to be confused over why God would require something at one point in time and then completely wipe it out later.

But THEN, I was able to rise above these thoughts and embrace the point of the passage: Eleazar’s great courage and his amazing, all-encompassing love for his God. He prized his relationship with his Lord more than life itself, which is inspirational and impressive. Jesus preached – and demonstrated through his death and rising – this value many years later and it is still the overarching Christian teaching today: As Jesus said, the first and greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind.”

And so, with taking just a little more time to reflect, the lesson I learned was to not get sidetracked by seeming inconsistencies and distractions, and to look for the enduring truth in Scripture. That’s what is important and where the Holy Spirit speaks to me. When in doubt, I need to always trust in the Lord’s all-encompassing love, and the supreme importance of living in that love and sharing it with others.

In Luke’s gospel, we have the lovely, familiar story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, who Jesus hand picks for a home visit.

Zacchaeus is an outcast among the Jewish people because he is working for the Romans in collecting exorbitant taxes. But he has heard about Jesus, and he is curious. Something he had heard made him want to see and learn for himself.

He climbs the sycamore tree so he can get a better view. We can imagine his surprise when Jesus calls him by name. One could assume he might have been worried that the famous itinerant teacher is addressing him personally. He could have feared that Jesus wanted to chastise him because of his career choice. But Jesus’ face, his eyes, his tone and invitation banished any fear and made Zacchaeus leap down and almost immediately have a complete conversion.

Those witnessing the scene had questions, of course, and grumblings against what Jesus was doing by going to Zacchaeus’ house. I pray to not be  like them, to not be jealous or sanctimonious, but instead to be in awe of the divine love witnessed right in front of me.

Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation based on the words of St. Therese Lisieux reinforces the Great Love we see in today’s readings, stating that love is the supreme gift of the Holy Spirit and “the mother and the root of all the virtues.” St. Therese said, “To love is to give everything. It is to give oneself.” May we respond to God’s Great Love and make it primary in our lives, as both Eleazar and Zacchaeus illustrate for us in today’s readings.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook