The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 3) gives support to fidelity: “The Lord upholds me.”
In 2Maccabees 6:18-31 ninety-year old Eleazar chose a brutal death rather than give a bad example to youth. He was being forced to open his mouth and eat pork, contrary to the Covenant. When he spit it out, his friends arranged a deal for him: if he would just pretend to eat the pork, they would substitute kosher food instead. But he refused: “Many young people would suppose that Eleazar at the age of ninety had conformed to the foreigners’ way of life and might be led astray by me.”
This was “faithful stewardship.” Eleazar held himself accountable for the use he made of the faith that had been given him and for fidelity to the Covenant.
He was accountable above all to God. Just before he died he said, “The Lord sees that in my soul I am glad to suffer because of the awe he inspires in me.”
We can’t help comparing the image of Eleazar spitting out unclean food to ourselves in Communion, taking into our mouths the Bread of Life. We are bearing the same witness: that we are a covenanted people. That in the mystery of Baptism, renewed and made present in the Mass, we accepted to be made one with Christ on the cross, to die with him and to everything this world offers, in order to rise out of the waters a “new creation,” the body of Christ, pledged to let him live and act “with us, in us, and through us” in everything we do. When we receive Communion we affirm that we have accepted, by Baptism and by participation in the Eucharist just celebrated, to
be Christ’s body and to be offered with him and in him in the world as he was on the cross. When we drink from the chalice we “drink to the Covenant” and to all it entails.
Jesus invited us in the Eucharistic Prayer:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it. For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal Covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many....
When we do, in the Rite of Communion, we affirm our faith in Jesus’ promise:
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life. I will raise them up on the last day.... They abide in me, and I in them.
In our fidelity to that Covenant we give an example, “not only for the young but for the whole nation.” We pray it will inspire the youth to similar fidelity, and to express it in fidelity to the Mass.
Luke 19:1-10: Not all “senior citizens” are faithful. Zacchaeus was a “senior tax collector and a wealthy man.” He was also a crooked politician who collaborated with the Roman government. But something in him was “anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was.” He climbed a tree to see him. Jesus, looking up, invited himself to dinner. That did it. Zacchaeus said: “Look, I am going to give half my property to the poor; and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times the amount.”
He finally recognized he was a steward of all he had. And Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Zacchaeus had shown himself a true “son of Abraham.”
Initiative: Live stewardship. Be accountable for what your life says.