32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, C, 2016
I have to congratulate the Chicago Cubs fans for finally breaking the curse of the goat and all the failures in the World Series since 1908. Of course they had to have some help of former Red Sox players: Jon Lester and David Ross; and most importantly Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations.
Speaking of the World Series, in 1965, the 1st game was on October 6th between the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Twins won that game, but, more importantly something had happened on that day that was highly unusual: Sandy Koufax, the ace of the Dodgers, did not pitch and wasn’t at the ballpark, not because of injury or to rest up for the next game, but because October 6th that year was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, possibly the most important holy day of the year for Jewish people. And Sandy is Jewish. He probably spent the day either going to a synagogue or was in his hotel room fasting and praying, joining Jewish people around the world asking for forgiveness.
In the reading from Maccabees, 7 brothers and their mother were arrested, tortured, and put to death because they wouldn’t eat pork which would be in violation of God’s law.
Sandy Koufax didn’t pitch in or even attend the 1st game of the World Series because of his religious beliefs.
During Ramadan, a month long remembrance of the 1st revelation of the Quran to Mohammad, Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset each day while going about their daily routines of working or going to school.
As Catholics we are required to fast and abstain from meat TWO (2) days a year, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain from meat every Friday during Lent. People of a certain age can remember when we were obliged to abstain every Friday of the year to remind ourselves of the Lord’s crucifixion. But that become a too much of a burden. And, even our fasting includes one full meal and 2 lesser ones that don’t add up to the amount of food we eat at the main meal (although no snacks between meals are allowed – oh, the humanity!).
We play sports, go shopping, may miss Mass on Sunday or Saturday evening (another attempt by the Church to make our religious practice more convenient for us), and still many of complain that our faith places too many demands on us.
Read the entire chapter 7 of II Maccabees to get a fuller picture of what they went through.
Of the three religions that trace their roots back to Abraham (Jewish, Muslim and Christianity), Christianity is the most lax in its demands for fasting and for set hours for daily prayer.