2 Maccabees 6:18, 21, 24-31
 

Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man of advanced age and noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork. Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately, because of their long acquaintance with him, and urged him to bring meat of his own providing, such as he could legitimately eat, and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice prescribed by the king.

He told them: “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young men would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty.

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 for the revered and holy laws.”

He spoke thus, and went immediately to the instrument of torture. Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed now became hostile toward him because what he had said seemed to them utter madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned and said:
“The LORD in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him.”

This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.

 
Download PDF or print this
 
Back to The Common of Martyrs