I’m sure we have some musicians here in church today: whether you play an instrument or sing, this is your feast day, because today we celebrate Saint Cecilia, a virgin and martyr who is the patron saint of musicians. Because she is a martyr, we also remember those people of faith throughout history who have been persecuted for their faith, have given their lives for the faith, and have triumphed for the faith.
In today’s first reading, Judas Maccabeus and his brothers are celebrating that triumph. Their people had been sorely oppressed and the temple was destroyed. But Judas and his brothers led an opposition that overtook their enemies, and when they sent their enemies packing, they fixed up the temple. In today’s reading, they rededicated the sanctuary and celebrated that God helped them to triumph over their Gentile enemies.
Saint Cecilia was a force for good among those who knew her. She worked hard to convert her husband and his brother to the faith. She was successful, and they were so strong in the faith that they also were martyred, just before she was. All of them refused to give up the faith and all of them triumphed in heaven.
And of course, it is Jesus who makes the triumph possible. As he refused to stop preaching the truth, his enemies, as our Gospel reading today shows us, will stop at nothing to silence him. Obviously, we know they were not ultimately successful: indeed Christ’s paschal mystery is the ultimate triumph: as he gave his life for us on the Cross, he triumphed over sin and death to give us the possibility of life forever in heaven.
It is said that as Saint Cecilia was being tortured and put to death, she sang a song of joy in her heart. She was joyful because she knew that death would not be the end; her Lord made that very clear to her and she believed in it with all her heart. We, too are called to sing a song of joy in our hearts, in every moment of our lives. In good times and bad, we know that we will triumph if we trust in Jesus, and that is certainly enough reason for us to sing for joy!