Readings for Thursday November 19, 2009
First Reading: 1 Maccabees 2:15-29
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50
Gospel: Luke 19:41-44
As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king’s order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu. (1 Mc 2:23-26)
If you have not read the entire book of Maccabees, I would strongly recommend it. Being a Catholic convert, we did not have the book of Maccabees in our bible (my old protestant bible was a bit lighter without those other book), so I never had heard any of the stories from this book until I came home to the church. The first time I ever read this book I thought it was so exciting, here you have this guy Mattathias who refuses to obey the kings orders and abandon God's ways. As soon as he sees another Jew obey the king instead of God, Mattathias goes absolutely crazy. The scripture says that "he was filled with zeal." I got to tell you, that kind of zeal is exciting, because obviously at that time not only disobeying the king's orders, but also taking out the Israelite who disobeyed God and the king's guys, now I am sure that Mattathias knew that there would be serious consequences because of that. But Mattathias didn't care about what could happen to him, he only cared about following where God was leading him.
We too like Mattathias and his sons are in a cultural war, where we are asked to maybe do things that go against our beliefs and God's ways. There is also increasing pressure from outside forces that seek to attack things that we hold so dear, such as the dignity of human life and the Sacrament of marriage. We must ask the Lord for the same type of zeal that was given to Mattathias, the kind of zeal to make bold moves in this life. Now, please do not think that I am saying that we should go out like Mattathias and kill people, that is not exactly what I am saying. I am saying that the zeal of the Lord can help us to stay strong against these many battles that we face on a daily basis. They can help us to stay strong against these current threats that we face and be zealous over God's ways.
May we all be granted zeal to share the faith and to stay strong against the challenges in this life.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that we have and all that we are given. We pray for the zeal and courage to go out and do your will each day. Lord, help make your path for us clear so that we may only do what is pleasing to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.