During the Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warned against “new things” that destroy the traditions, history, and religion of a people. Martyr Eleazar was a "root" for the young and the future of his people.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Casa Santa Marta this morning, speaking about the martyrdom of Eleazar in the Book of Maccabees (6: 18-31). In his homily, he said that bearing witness, i.e. martyrdom, is the medicine against the “cultural and ideological colonisation” that makes everything the same and wipes away differences.
The pontiff noted first that next to religious or political persecution there is cultural persecution, such as those found in in the biblical text about Antiochus Epiphanes, who introduced "the pagan institutions of other nations" in the land of the Jewish people.
It is "a new culture that wants to do everything anew and wipe away the traditions, history, and even religion of a people." The persecution born of an ideological colonisation goes on like this: it destroys, "levels out everything, [and] is not capable of tolerating differences".
To defend the "true traditions" of a people, resistance develops, like that of Eleazar, a decent, very respected man. The Book of Maccabees tells the story of such martyrs and heroes.
“This is the path of cultural colonisation that ends up persecuting believers as well,” the pontiff said. “We do not have to go too far to see some examples, like the genocides of the last century, which was a new cultural thing: [It tried to make] everyone equal. Those whose blood was not pure were out . . . Everyone the same, no place for differences, no place for others, no place for God. This is a perverse root. Faced with such cultural colonisation, which is born out of the perversity of an ideological root, Eleazar became himself a root.”
Eleazar died, his mind turned to young people, leaving them a noble example. He "gave his life, for the love of God and the law, and became a root for the future." So, faced with a perverse root that leads to ideological and cultural colonisation, "there is this other root that gives its life to enable the future to grow."
Eleazar bore witness to life thinking of the legacy he was going to leave with his example. "This is how I live. Yes, I talk with those who think differently, but this is how my testimony is, in accordance with God's law."
Eleazar’s mind was not on leaving money or anything like that, but was turned to the future, to "the legacy of his testimony," a testimony that would be "a promise of fruitfulness for young people."
What Antiochus Epiphanes had brought was “something new”, Francis said. However, “we must discern ‘the new things’. Is this new thing from the Lord, does it come from the Holy Spirit, is it rooted in God? Or does this new thing come from a perverse root?”
“Before, yes, it was a sin to kill children, but today it is not a problem, it is a perverse new thing. Yesterday, the differences were clear, as God made them; creation was respected, but today we are a bit modern . . . you do... you understand . . . things are not so different . . . and things are mixed up.” But thanks to his testimony, Eleazar "became a root to give life to others."
In concluding, the pope said that he hoped that Eleazar’s example “will help us in moments of confusion in the face of the cultural and spiritual colonisation that is being proposed to us.”