St Bartholomew was skinned alive for his faith
From today’s reading (2 Maccabees 7:1,20-31)
‘I do not know how you appeared in my womb; it was not I who endowed you with breath and life, I had not the shaping of your every part. It is the creator of the world, ordaining the process of man’s birth and presiding over the origin of all things, who in his mercy will most surely give you back both breath and life, seeing that you now despise your own existence for the sake of his laws.’’
‘I implore you, my child, observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of what did not exist, and that mankind comes into being in the same way. Do not fear this executioner, but prove yourself worthy of your brothers, and make death welcome, so that in the day of mercy I may receive you back in your brothers’ company.’'
The great faith shown by the woman in these passages is quite incredible. She had already witnessed the execution of six of her seven sons. Now, the youngest was also preparing to die. The king tried to appeal to the boy and to the mother, stating that he would spare the boy’s life but only if the boy abandoned the traditions of his ancestors. This was not something the boy was prepared to do and his mother, driven by the sureness of faith, uttered the words in the above passages.
This woman shows complete trust in God; the same God who gave life to her children and who shaped each of them in her womb. She encourages her son to observe both heaven and earth and acknowledge that God made it all from nothing. She encourages him to consider that mankind came into being in the same way. She even tells him not to fear the executioner but to welcome death as it will lead to their family being reunited once again in heaven, subject to the mercy of God. What faith!
Death has no hold over us. It’s that simple. This woman knew that death was not the end and that God in His mercy would not let her sons be lost forever. Rather, He would let them live on in His kingdom.
Consider this story as a parallel to the countless martyrs who have died for their faith over the years. Even to this day people are dying for their faith, refusing to renounce what they truly believe in; refusing to renounce their God. Why? Through love of God and in the certain knowledge that death is not the end….