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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Maccabees 11, 54-74

After this, Trypho came back with the little boy Antiochus, who became king and was crowned.

All the troops that Demetrius had summarily dismissed rallied to Antiochus, and made war on Demetrius, who turned tail and fled.

Trypho captured the elephants and seized Antioch.

Young Antiochus then wrote as follows to Jonathan: 'I confirm you in the high-priesthood and set you over the four districts and appoint you one of the Friends of the King.'

He sent him a service of gold plate, and granted him the right to drink from gold vessels, and to wear the purple and the golden brooch.

He appointed his brother Simon commander-in-chief of the region from the Ladder of Tyre to the frontiers of Egypt.

Jonathan then set out and made a progress through Transeuphrates and its towns, and the entire Syrian army rallied to his support. He came to Ascalon and was received in state by the inhabitants.

From there he proceeded to Gaza, but the people of Gaza shut him out, so he laid siege to it, burning down its suburbs and plundering them.

The people of Gaza then pleaded with Jonathan, and he made peace with them; but he took the sons of their chief men as hostages and sent them away to Jerusalem. He then travelled through the country as far as Damascus.

Jonathan now learned that Demetrius' generals had arrived at Kadesh in Galilee with a large army, intending to remove him from office,

and went to engage them, leaving his brother Simon inside the country.

Simon laid siege to Beth-Zur, attacking it day after day, and blockading the inhabitants

till they sued for peace, which he granted them, though he expelled them from the town and occupied it, stationing a garrison there.

Jonathan and his army, meanwhile, having pitched camp by the Lake of Gennesar, rose early, and by morning were already in the plain of Hazor.

The foreigners' army advanced to fight them on the plain, having first positioned an ambush for him in the mountains. While the main body was advancing directly towards the Jews,

the troops in ambush broke cover and attacked first.

All the men with Jonathan fled; no one was left, except Mattathias son of Absalom and Judas son of Chalphi, the generals of his army.

At this, Jonathan tore his garments, put dust on his head, and prayed.

Then he returned to the fight and routed the enemy, who fled.

When the fugitives from his own forces saw this, they came back to him and joined in the pursuit as far as Kadesh where the enemy encampment was, and there they themselves pitched camp.

About three thousand of the foreign troops fell that day. Jonathan then returned to Jerusalem.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Disillusioned by Demetrius, Jonathan passed over to Trypho and began to serve the new king, Antiochus VI, with the same loyalty he had previously shown his father Alexander. In his turn Antiochus, having occupied Antioch, confirmed Jonathan in the role of high priest and in his earlier ranks of “friend” and “kinsman” (the gifts being a confirmation of this latter position). He also re-appointed him as governor over four cities: Ephraim, Lidda, Ramataim and perhaps Akrabattene. Simon was appointed as general (strategós) over the coastal territory from the Ladder of Tyre to Raphia, at the borders of Egypt. Jonathan, strengthened by recognition on the part of Seleucus IV, ranged across the entire region “beyond the river” - that is, west of the Euphrates - eliminating rebel strongholds, recruiting troops for Trypho with a view to the coming battle, and meeting only slight resistance in Gaza. Demetrius was well aware of the danger that a newly strengthened Jonathan represented, and sent his generals into Galilee to persuade him, not so much to abandon his plans to bring the entire region west of the Euphrates under the dominion of Antiochus IV, as to compel him to desist from all military operations, and if possible to eliminate him. Jonathan entrusted command of the “region” of Galilee to his brother while he and his soldiers moved to-wards Galilee. Demetrius had established himself at Seleucia Pieria, from where he controlled Cilicia, Mesopotamia and the costal cities of Tyre, Sidon and Gaza. In the summer of l44 Demetrius sent a contingent of troops against Jonathan with the intention of destroying his power as he lay at Kadesh in Galilee. Leaving his brother Simon with the task of re-conquering and fortifying Beth-zur, Jonathan encamped near the lake of Gennesaret then ranged his troops for battle on the plains of Hazor; but he fell into an ambush and his troops panicked and fled. It was at this point that Jonathan, driven to desperation, prayed to the Lord, and it was at this point that the turnaround came: “Jonathan tore his clothes, put dust on his head, and prayed” (71) finally entrusting himself and the fate of his people to the Lord. The gesture of rending garments was the prerogative of the high priest as representative of the entire people. And the miracle took place: “Then he turned back to the battle against the enemy and routed them, and they fled” (72). The author of the sacred text notes that “then,” that is after prayer and penance, comes the gift of victory over the enemy. Awareness of his own sin is what helps the believer to address God confidently and obtain His aid.

Sunday Vigil