Readings for Thursday Mass

II Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14

There were seven brothers who were arrested with their mother. The king tried to force them to taste pig’s flesh, which the Law forbids, by torturing them with whips and scourges. One of them, acting as spokesman for the others, said, ‘What are you trying to find out from us? We are prepared to die rather than break the laws of our ancestors.’

    With his last breath the second brother exclaimed, ‘Inhuman fiend, you may discharge us from this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up, since it is for his laws that we die, to live again for ever.’

    After him, they amused themselves with the third, who on being asked for his tongue promptly thrust it out and boldly held out his hands, with these honourable words, ‘It was heaven that gave me these limbs; for the sake of his laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again.’ The king and his attendants were astounded at the young man’s courage and his utter indifference to suffering.

    When this one was dead they subjected the fourth to the same savage torture. When he neared his end he cried, ‘Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men’s hands, yet relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by him; whereas for you there can be no resurrection, no new life.’

Psalm 124:2-5,7-8

Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.

If the Lord had not been on our side
    when men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive
    when their anger was kindled.

Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.

Then would the waters have engulfed us,
    the torrent gone over us;
over our head would have swept
    the raging waters.

Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.

Indeed the snare has been broken
    and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.

Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
    theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
    they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
    they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
    they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
    they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
    they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
    they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
    theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven: this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.’