THE THREE GRADES OF HUMILITY: martyrdom of Eleazar—2 Maccabees 6:18-31
The Martyrdom of the holy and elderly Eleazar

The following is a meditation on the great nobility and powerful example of one of the most admirable figures of the Old Testament, the 90 year old scribe ELEAZAR. In our present society in which we are being menaced and threatened to violate our conscience in many moral matters, May this noble man be of great inspiration for all of us. Our eyes and hearts should be fixed on God above any political or social ideology! As Saint Peter stated bluntly: “Better to obey God rather than man.”

The high point of the three grades of humility is a willingness to even sacrifice one’s life and to shed one’s own blood for the love of God and the pursuit of the truth and the practice of heroic virtue. Saint Ignatius, in the meditation on the three grades of humility states that we should prefer death over mortal or even deliberate venial sin. In a sensual, materialistic and consumeristic society this concept appears to be mere absurdity. However, not for Jesus, the holy men of the Bible and the saints. In fact Jesus stated: “What would it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul. What can a man give in exchange for his mortal soul?”

Indeed the salvation of our soul should always prevail over the safety and the welfare of our body. This is very difficult because the modern society tends to cater to the demands of the body in an excessive degree. In sum, the body is pampered in all times and places.   This is so clear in the way so many spend excessive and exorbitant sums of money. Pope Francis at the start of his pontificate warned about the danger of excessive money being spent on cosmetics as well as on pets.

Expensive restaurants, sauna baths, beauty salons, expensive vacation resorts—just to mention a few highlight the modern life-style of so many!

ELEAZAR when confronted by a moral situation that would compromise his beliefs would not buckle under pressure, but was faithful to his conscience until the end.  This noble man can be admired and for many reasons. Let us meditate and pray over these.

1.    FOREMOST SCRIBE.  Meaning that this man was a zealous student of the Word of God. Not only did he read the Word of God, know it but also he lived the word of God.

2.    MAN OF ADVANCED AGE.   How important it is for us that as we advance in age we should have a parallel growth in wisdom, knowledge, grace and holiness.

3.    MIND IN A NOBLE MANNER.   He had a very noble mind. How we should pray for the formation of a noble mind. May we have a strong mind, a mind filled with the most sublime sentiments. Indeed we are what we think. Let us put on the mind of Christ and even have the mind of Christ.

4.    ADMIRABLE LIFE HE LIVED FROM HIS CHILDHOOD. In other words, he had always lived a noble, holy and exemplar life, worthy of praise and imitation.  This was a man of great intelligence and innocence and holiness. Pray for preservation of the innocence of our children today more than ever.

5.    ABOVE ALL BE LOYAL TO THE HOLY LAWS GIVEN BY GOD.  Must pray that we would be faithful to God till the very end.

6.    AVOID TRICKERY AND DISHONESTY. Some tried to save him by convincing him to fake that he was eating pork. The man of 90 would not give in to trickery.

7.    BAD EXAMPLE. Indeed this would be giving bad example to the youth. At all times adults should be a shining example to the younger generation like Eleazar.  Jesus said that we must be the Light of the world.

8.    THE ALMIGHTY.  Nobody can escape the hands of the Almighty God. God sees all we do, even the secret intentions of our hearts and we will be judged accordingly. What we sow is what we will reap!

9.    GOES IMMEDIATELY TO TORTURE.  He has no identity crisis, very much like Saint John the Baptist.

10.SUFFERS GREAT PAINS BUT JOY IN HIS SOUL.  Even in the midst of great suffering and torture, God give joy.

11.MODEL. He leaves a model of courage and virtue for the young and the whole world.

12.Cardinal Burke speaks about three forms of martyrdom: Physical, persecution, and witness. In our present society, where human rights are being trampled far and wide, we might be called to the heroic witness of martyrdom. May the saints of the past through their prayers and example spur us on the win the merited crown that awaits us!