Reflection for Sunday, November 8, 1998: 32nd week in Ordinary Time.

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Whitney, Tamora
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I am a vegetarian. I choose not to eat meat because of moral reasons. I do not personally want to be responsible for the death of animals, and if they had to die so I could eat them or wear their fur or skin, I am responsible for their deaths. This is not a tenet of my religion, so I'm not under dietary restrictions imposed, as in the readings today, by the law of God, but in refusing to eat meat I am still taking a moral stand that is not always popular.|I sometimes have to take a lot of flak for being a vegetarian. Luckily for me, not as much as the mother and her sons in the readings. I am not tortured and killed (and in a skipped section of the reading cooked), but I am sometimes ridiculed, argued with and put down. Sometimes people try to feed me meat unawares by insisting I eat something but refusing to tell me what is in it. People will say, "I know you don't eat meat, but you just have to try this." They sometimes try to physically put the meat in my mouth. Sometimes people tell me that vegetables have feelings too, I suppose with the idea that I'm being silly at best or hypocritical at worst by being vegetarian. Maybe I just shouldn't eat anything. It's sometimes hard to take a moral stand.|I've always held martyrs in awe. I am personally amazed at that kind of faith and devotion. Their willingness to die rather than go against the law of God and the tenets of the religion is something I doubt I could do. If those same people who are trying to put a piece of pork chop in my mouth were accompanying it with a real threat of torture, dismemberment, and death, I think I would be eating pork chops for lunch. That young boy in the reading who almost anxiously puts out his tongue and his hands to the torturers even amazes them with his faith and devotion. He knows that in taking a stand for his moral beliefs and in rejecting temptation he will be rewarded in the next world, and those who are forcing him to go against his beliefs will be punished. How tempting it must have been for that mother and her sons to go ahead and eat the pork to save themselves from a torturous death, but instead they stood up for their beliefs as confident of reward in the next world as they were of painful death in this one.|Now a few thousand years later people are still being tempted to go against God's laws, and those who don't give into the temptation to such things as cursing and cheating are often tortured by ridicule and belittling. I think the popularity of the WWJD accessories is encouraging. When confronted with temptation, asking "What Would Jesus Do?" might get people thinking about the importance of taking a moral stand and not giving into temptation even though it's not always easy and not always popular. I know I'm sometimes tempted by McDonald's, especially during beanie baby promotions, but thinking about what the mother in the readings did, and what she encouraged her seven sons to do might help me stand firm in my moral convictions even though it's not always easy, and it's not always popular.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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