Monday 20 November 2023
1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands – Psalm 118(119):53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158. Luke 18:35-43.
Without indulging the martyr complex that some Christians have cultivated, it is not unreasonable to see some similarities between our time and that of Antiochus Epiphanes. Although a significant portion of Australians remain nominal Christians, there are tensions between majority culture and Christian faith that weren’t present a few decades ago. As with the second century BC however, it is important to stress that this doesn’t imply that the previous ‘era’ was some golden age. In our case one need only look at gendered violence, racism, the ransacking of the planet etc to dismiss any such notion.
There are some Catholics who would resolve these tensions by imitating the fallen Israelites of Maccabees, abandoning everything that distinguishes our faith. Though we can probably all feel the appeal of this, given the awkwardness of being a Catholic today, we should be inspired by the Jewish heroes from Maccabees who stood firm.