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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 6, 1-17

King Antiochus, meanwhile, was making his way through the Upper Provinces; he had heard that in Persia there was a city called Elymais, renowned for its riches, its silver and gold,

and its very wealthy temple containing golden armour, breastplates and weapons, left there by Alexander son of Philip, the king of Macedon, the first to reign over the Greeks.

He therefore went and attempted to take the city and pillage it, but without success, the citizens having been forewarned.

They resisted him by force of arms. He was routed, and began retreating, very gloomily, towards Babylon.

But, while he was still in Persia, news reached him that the armies which had invaded Judaea had been routed,

and that Lysias in particular had advanced in massive strength, only to be forced to turn and flee before the Jews; that the latter were now stronger than ever, thanks to the arms, supplies and abundant spoils acquired from the armies they had cut to pieces,

and that they had pulled down the abomination which he had erected on the altar in Jerusalem, had encircled the sanctuary with high walls as in the past, and had fortified Beth-Zur, one of his cities.

When the king heard this news he was amazed and profoundly shaken; he threw himself on his bed and fell sick with grief, since things had not turned out for him as he had planned.

And there he remained for many days, subject to deep and recurrent fits of melancholy, until he realised that he was dying.

Then, summoning all his Friends, he said to them, 'Sleep evades my eyes, and my heart is cowed by anxiety.

I have been wondering how I could have come to such a pitch of distress, so great a flood as that which now engulfs me -- I who was so generous and well-loved in my heyday.

But now I recall how wrongly I acted in Jerusalem when I seized all the vessels of silver and gold there and ordered the extermination of the inhabitants of Judah for no reason at all.

This, I am convinced, is why these misfortunes have overtaken me, and why I am dying of melancholy in a foreign land.'

He summoned Philip, one of his Friends, and made him regent of the whole kingdom.

He entrusted him with his diadem, his robe and his signet, on the understanding that he was to educate his son Antiochus and train him for the throne.

King Antiochus then died, in the year 149.

Lysias, learning that the king was dead, established on the throne in succession to him his son Antiochus, whom he had brought up from childhood -- and styled him Eupator.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

With the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the author shows the sad ending for anyone who is guided by the greed for wealth. It is a temptation which unfortunately returns in every generation, including our own. Whoever gives in to it is driven to evil deeds against both people and God. Antiochus, as narrated previously (3:37), had gone to Persia with the intent of obtaining wealth useful for his military expenditures (3:31). He learnt that the city of Elymais, “famed for its wealth in silver and gold” had also a temple that “was very rich, containing golden shields, breastplates, and weapons left there by Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian king who first reigned over the Greeks” (vv. 1-2). Antiochus decided to attack in order to plunder it and also seize the riches of the temple. The inhabitants understood the king’s plan and attacked him forcing him to flee. Since his attempt had failed, the king retreated. In the meantime, he received the news about the many defeats his army had suffered by the Jews who not only had humiliated his army, but also regained Jerusalem and restored the temple. The king was bitterly affected by this news, “he was astounded and badly shaken. He took to his bed and became sick from disappointment, because things had not turned out for him as he had planned. He lay there for many days, because deep disappointment continually gripped him, and he realized that he was dying” (vv. 8-9). The author notes that the king was not only frightened, but fell ill and even went into depression. The author points out the king’s moods three times, emphasizing his: great sadness, great depression, and great pain. The crushing defeats led the king to reflect on his past. He recognized, in a sort of confession of sins, the causes of his sufferings, namely the sacking of the temple which he carried out (1:20-24) and the massacres ordered by one of his emissaries (1:29-32). In truth, the origin of all that was the greed of wealth which led him to fulfil evil deeds. The thirst for “silver and gold” drove him towards Persia (v. 1), as he had done before plundering Jerusalem and the temple (v. 12). In this first book, the term “gold” appears eleven times and always paired with “silver” and the emphasis is always negative. Wealth corrupts the heart of both those who are believers and those who are not. In this case, Antiochus was corrupted by wealth. However, in the course of the story, the sons of Mattathias, unlike their father, will let themselves be corrupted by silver and gold, and all of their lives will end in a violent way. The prophets were indeed against the enslavement to money. Jesus, who brings to fulfilment the Scriptures clearly warns, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Mt 6:24). In today’s materialistic culture these words, also illustrated by the example of Antiochus, echo even stronger the command to keep us away from greed.

Sunday Vigil

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 19 November
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 20 November
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 21 November
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 22 November
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 23 November
Memory of the Church
Friday, 24 November
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 25 November
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 26 November
Liturgy of the Sunday