Nov. 17, 2015 Tuesday: St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Ninety Year Old Man
“…many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion” (2 Maccabees 6:18-31)
Our society has a way of considering elderly people as useless and a burden to the economy. And if we buy into this cultural belief, we who are seniors, will begin to think the same way.
Today we read the remarkable story of a ninety-year-old who helped turn the tide of history on the last day of his life. His heroic stance for his faith earned him a place in Scripture and made him a model for believers for his generation and for all those that followed.
The man’s name was Eleazar. He was well-known and well-respected in his community…”a foremost scribe, a man of advanced age and noble appearance.” His persecutors, as part of their campaign to eliminate the Jewish religion, forced open his mouth and shoved in a piece of pork. Knowing that this was meat forbidden in his religion, Eleazar promptly spat it out in front of everyone. Then he “went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture.”
Some of the men who were in charge of this operation urged Eleazar to “fake it,” by pretending to eat the pork but instead eating a piece of kosher meat. The writer comments that these persecutors tried to help Eleazar “because of their old friendship with him.”
“But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood,” to stand by his faith. He said: “Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously…”
He went on to endure the terrible pain of scourging, “suffering it with joy” because of his devotion to God. He became a legend not only among the young people but “for the entire nation.”
In our age when Christians are being forced to “eat” the lies of our culture, God is raising up many Eleazars to stand for the truth, no matter the personal consequences.
Lest the elderly think they are past their prime, we need to realize our moment of testimony is yet to come. We are not “over the hill” but just approaching the top of it.
Let none of us concede to the lie of the enemy that we are useless in the kingdom of God. From young to old, we resolve to remain firm in our faith no matter the consequences—following in the footsteps of great heroes like Eleazar. We pray for courage.
“But you, O Lord, are my shield, my glory, the lifter of my head” (Ps 3:4).