33rd Week, Saturday, Nov 25; Saint Catherine of Alexandria

33rd Week, Saturday, Nov 25

1 Maccabees 6:3-13 / Luke 20:27-40

Antiochus dies grief-stricken; He paid dearly for his sins against Israel.

When the United States announced the inauguration of a space program, program officials were swamped with letters. Many of them were from people offering to sacrifice their lives for the cause. One letter was from an ex-convict in Houston, Texas. He began by saying that he had a high IQ and was all alone in the world. Then, after offering himself as a guinea pig, he said, "Perhaps in this way I will be able to truly atone for my mistakes.” Antiochus didn't atone for his sins in his lifetime. It wasn't until the hour of death that he realized how foolish he had been.


What are we doing to atone for our sins? What sins are we especially sorry for? “When we lay our faults at God's feet, it feels as though we have taken wings.” Eugenie de Guerin


We are told in the first reading about the end of King Antiochus IV. After he had failed to rob the temple of Artemis in Mesopotamia and heard about the restoration of Jerusalem and its Temple, he died in discouragement.


The ambition of man can be so astounding and amazing, and can even have no bounds. Man has even gone out of his world and gone to the moon and even explored the solar system. Yet he may have gone so far out of himself that he may not be able to see what is so near and so important to him. 

In the 1st reading, we heard how king Antiochus had great ambitions in his military campaigns. But when everything fell apart, he also fell into a lethargy from acute disappointment and melancholy until he understood that he was dying. 

He regretted the wrong he did, especially the wrong he did to God in Jerusalem. He regretted, but was it too late? We too have our ambitions in life and plans for the future. But are these plans just about the future or are they about eternity?


As Jesus said in the gospel, God, is not God of the dead, but of the living. If our lives and our plans are all just about ourselves, then we may not know who the God of the living is. King Antiochus is showing us a very important lesson today. Don't wait till it is too late and end up regretting it. Because it might be for eternity.


“God is the God of the living,” says Jesus. He calls back to life those who die; death is overcome since Jesus rose from the dead. The witnesses of the first reading are put to death by the mighty of this earth because they contest the abuse of power, but God raises them up. The resurrection is the core of our faith, not only as a promise to live on in God’s joy after death but already now as a power of building up one another in human dignity, justice, peace, and serving love. We cannot die forever, because God cannot stop loving us.


The Gospel passage of today affirms the truth of the resurrection. Jesus says that our God is God “not of the dead, but of the living; for to Him everyone is alive”. This statement of the Lord confirms life beyond death and gives us a realistic vision of the future. He tells us that life in the future will be different from the present. Marriage and giving in marriage are necessities of earthly life. In the resurrection, we are in the presence of God, and life in the presence of God is a life of bliss with no other desire to be fulfilled. Hence today we are invited to strengthen our belief in Jesus’ resurrection and our own resurrection.



God, source, and purpose of all life, you have committed yourself to us, with a love that never ends.  Give us the indestructible hope that you have prepared for us life and happiness beyond the powers of death.  May this firm hope sustain us to find joy in life and to face its difficulties and challenges resolutely and fearlessly, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen


Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Feast Day November 25

She was about eighteen and her name was Catherine. She lived in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, the city that Antony the Great of Egypt had once visited and that was the home of Athanasius.

Catherine lived during the reign of the Roman emperor Maxentius and was famous throughout the city for her beauty. Despite this, she was the sort of person who liked to spend her time reading and studying. Indeed, she was just as famous for her intelligence as she was for her good looks.

Now it so happened that Emperor Maxentius made a visit to Alexandria, which was part of his empire. While he was there, he heard about Catherine’s beauty and intelligence. He commanded his servants to bring her to meet him. As soon as he saw her, he decided he wanted to marry her. Immediately. But there was a problem.

Maxentius already had a wife.

Maxentius (who continued to worship the ancient Roman gods) didn’t think this mattered at all. “Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll have two wives at the same time. I’m the emperor, I can do what I like.” Catherine was having none of this. She refused his proposal, saying that as a Christian she couldn’t possibly agree to such a relationship.

Maxentius then gathered together a great number of teachers and professors who also believed in the Roman gods. He told them to persuade Catherine that her Christian faith was nonsense. She listened to them for a while and then started answering their points convincingly and persuasively. The result was that, far from getting Catherine to change her mind, these wise men began to change their own minds.

The emperor was not only angry; he was alarmed. What would happen if Rome gave up its worship of the old gods? He didn’t want any of what he described as “this Christian nonsense.”

So he gave orders that Catherine should be put to death in a particularly horrible way. He had a large wheel made, with sharp blades set into the outside rim. Then Catherine was to be tied around this edge, and the blades were intended to cut her to pieces as the wheel was rolled along.

It didn’t go according to plan. When Catherine was bound to the wheel, it broke and the blades flew off in all directions, flashing in the light and wounding the soldiers who were supposed to be putting her to death. Some people say all this was caused by lightning striking the wheel. Whether that is true or not, Catherine’s executioners didn’t try making another wheel. They beheaded her at once.

It is said that a flight of angels then descended from heaven and carried her body to Mount Sinai, where, centuries before, God had given the Ten Commandments to Moses. Even today there is a monastery named Saint Catherine’s there.

People also remember the death of Saint Catherine with the firework that is named after her, which is supposed to spin around as her wheel did.