Liturgical Time

Farewell "C"


We are about to end not just another liturgical year, but also another three-year lectionary cycle of Sunday Mass readings. Built around the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) they are better known as year A, year B, and year C.

So farewell Liturgical Year 2019, farewell Year C.

Not all of the Bible is included the three-year cycle of the Lectionary, but more is than was included in the Roman Missal before the Second Vatican Council. The following from Sacrosanctum Concilium illustrates the Council’s intentions:

"The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years."

There is a terrific website that analyzes these things, listing by percentage the amount of chapter and verse of each book of the Bible in both the pre-Vatican II Roman Missal and the current Lectionary (at least it’s terrific to a numbers geek such as myself). Of note was that both First and Second Maccabees were not in the pre-Vatican Roman Missal at all, and only a relatively few of their verses are in the current Lectionary’s cycle. This might explain why we don’t hear about Eleazar very often.

The story of Eleazar appeared this week in the readings for Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week of Ordinary Time (Year C). One of the foremost scribes, Eleazar was a 90 year old man who was being forced to eat pork. When given the opportunity to choose life by only appearing to eat pork (and not actually doing it) Eleazar chose death because he could not be disloyal to the holy laws given by his God. He did not want to bring shame or dishonor to his old age, and he wanted to leave the young with a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for God and God’s laws.

Eleazar knew who he was and was willing to remain true no matter the cost. Eleazar modelled stability and obedience in God, even when he knew they might bring suffering or death.

Rarely is the price so high.

Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God – Rule of Benedict 43:3

Sacrosanctum Concilium no. 51
2 Maccabees 6:18-31