2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14
2 Thes 2:16-3:5
Seven, completeness, wholeness, the number of perfection. Seven, the pinnacle. Seven brothers are tortured, tortured to death. They refuse to deny their God, to defile themselves by disobeying God's law. For their faithfulness they receive death. Even those putting these young men to death admire their courage, their steadfastness in the face of tribulation, but they still die. They seem at the surface to have failed, and failed badly.
Seven brothers all marry, yet all die without an heir. Following the law the wife of the first to die marries the next, who also dies. She then marries the next and the next and the next, each in his turn, until she has been married to all seven, yet all seven die childless. The law was kept, but failure is still the outcome. Some even mock the law and it's keeping. "At the resurrection, whose wife will she be?" Seven, the number of perfection, yet none of these outcomes is perfect. Indeed all can be seen as failures. All can be seen as failures if we fail to see the ultimate truth in these events. "They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise." The outcome may seem as failure to human eyes. Not so for the divine. "It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up..." Seven is indeed the number of perfection as long as we realize that for the brothers, and for us, all is brought to perfection in God.
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nov. 11, 2007