2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. One of them, acting as their spokesman, said, “What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”
And when he was at his last breath, he said, “You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.”
After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, and said nobly, “I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.” As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man’s spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
After he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way. When he was near death, he said, “One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!”
Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Guard me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Brothers and sisters:
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”
Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
In the Gospel, Jesus is teaching the Sadducees the meaning of the resurrection. He references Moses because they referred to Moses, and gives them a new vision: the dead are raised and those who are found worthy of life are alive to God.
The Sadducees, who did not believe in resurrection, used the example of the seven brothers who tried to raise up progeny. Without resurrection, immortality can only be found through procreation. Imagine how important it would be to us if death were our final end and only an heir could continue our heritage and our family name.
So the Sadducees assumed that resurrection meant that we still marry.
You can imagine why the story of the seven brothers in Maccabees, martyred for their faith and obedience to God’s law, would be a big sign to them of confidence in the resurrection. Their hope was in immortality so all seven men could face death willingly. They would not transgress their law and no fear or pain was worthy of losing eternal life.
The mother of the seven sons passed down to her sons more than her genes, or talents, she passed down faith and hope in immortality through obeying the Lord’s Commandments. They suffered, but God strengthened them and gave them eternal comfort and hope. Because of that, they would be assured of eternal life. They would all become children of God.
There is no way to better test our faith in the resurrection than to be willing to die for it. How can we be afraid if we are entering into eternal life, joy, peace, and happiness? No pleasure in life should be able to compel us to trade eternal rewards. Today, pray for those who are being persecuted and all dying for the faith for strength and confidence in their eternal reward.