This week, we began the final roundup of weekday readings for the liturgical year. In the Year 1 cycle of things, that means two weeks of stories from the time of the Maccabees (appropriately enough, since our Jewish neighbors will also be celebrating Hanukah at the same time!). I always find these readings unsettling, especially the story of the noble old Eleazar (today) and the mind-blowing heroism of the mother who watched one son after another go to death rather than betray the Covenant. Even more unsettling to realize that people are facing choices like this even today.
On the other hand, it is a sign of the greatness of the human heart that there are some things that matter enough to stake your life on; that there are some things to which "whatever" can never be an acceptable answer.