"Now I am dying, in bitter grief, in a foreign land." —1 Maccabees 6:13
Antiochus died a miserable death, "seized with excruciating pains in his bowels and sharp internal torment" (2 Mc 9:5). "The body of this impious man swarmed with worms, and while he was still alive in hideous torments, his flesh rotted off, so that the entire army was sickened by the stench of his corruption" (2 Mc 9:9). The Scripture comments that Antiochus died in this way because of the atrocities he committed against the chosen people. For example, "women who had had their children circumcised were put to death, in keeping with the decree, with the babies hung from their necks" (1 Mc 1:60). Yet after these brutal mass murders and after defiling the Temple, Antiochus wrote a letter characterizing his reign as mild, kind, and loving (2 Mc 9:26; 1 Mc 6:12).
This shows the human person's immense capacity for self-deception. A human being can act like Hitler and still consider himself a great humanitarian. Sin blinds us to being blind. We can crucify Jesus and His followers and "claim to be serving God" (Jn 16:2). People can ruthlessly dismember helpless babies in the womb and say they're preventing child-abuse. To prevent self-deception, shedding innocent blood, and receiving the deadly wages of sin, we must repent and confess our sins now.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for I know not what I'm doing (Lk 23:34).
Promise: "God is not the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive for Him." —Lk 20:38
Praise: One of the Vietnamese Martyrs told of his joy in torture because he knew "Christ was with" him.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our leaflet, The Secret of Confession, or on audio AV 44-3 or video V-44.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 3, 2007
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