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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

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Maccabees 2, 39-48

When the news reached Mattathias and his friends, they mourned them bitterly

and said to one another, 'If we all do as our brothers have done, and refuse to fight the gentiles for our lives and institutions, they will only destroy us the sooner from the earth.'

So then and there they came to this decision, 'If anyone attacks us on the Sabbath day, whoever he may be, we shall resist him; we must not all be killed, as our brothers were in the hiding places.'

Soon they were joined by the Hasidaean party, stout fighting men of Israel, each one a volunteer on the side of the Law.

All the refugees from the persecution rallied to them, giving them added support.

They organised themselves into an armed force, striking down the sinners in their anger, and the renegades in their fury, and those who escaped them fled to the gentiles for safety.

Mattathias and his friends made a tour, overthrowing the altars

and forcibly circumcising all the boys they found uncircumcised in the territories of Israel.

They hunted down the upstarts and managed their campaign to good effect.

They wrested the Law out of the control of the gentiles and the kings and reduced the sinners to impotence.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After the martyrdom of the Jews who did not want to fight on a Sabbath day, Mattathias decided to arrange a real action of resistance. But, instead of a non-violent practice, as the one of those Jews who were killed in order not to violate the rest of the Sabbath, Mattathias decided for an active resistance that would even break the observance of the Sabbath. He said to his fellows, “Let us fight against anyone who comes to attack us on the Sabbath day; let us not all die as our kindred died in their hiding places” (v.41). A group of Hasideans joined them –from the Hebrew word Hasidim – which means “pious” man, strict observer of the Law, as it is written in note of the text: “all who offered themselves willingly for the law” (v.42) in its integrity. They can be identified as the most determined group in observing and defending the Law. Many think that both the Pharisee and the Essene groups started from them. Others joined them and quite a large, armed group was created to hinder the decisions of King Antiochus. Mattathias’ group – now sufficiently organized– started a real guerrilla war against the Jews who betrayed the covenant with God and destroyed all the altars that were built in the cities and villages by order of the king. Then they started to circumcise all the children who had not been circumcised because of the king’s prohibition. The author concludes the passage anticipating all the success achieved but only after the endless struggles of the Maccabees. The final victory will be possible only because Mattathias manages to thank all the persons who kept their faith in the Lord. As the author notes, “They hunted down the arrogant, and the work prospered in their hands. They rescued the law out of the hands of the Gentiles and kings, and they never let the sinner gain the upper hand” (vv. 47-48). The Law is represented as a valuable tool, which stolen by the pagan people because of the scorn of the believers, is finally conquered again. Indeed, only by the possession of the Law, we can face and win over the sin. This is the sense of this page: the fight is needed to regain the Law and it starts from the hearts of the disciples. It is, indeed, within the hearts that we have to face the struggle to follow the Lord instead of the evil; to be loosened from the chains of slavery and to live freely to love.

Memory of the Church

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 15 October
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 16 October
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 17 October
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 18 October
Memory of the Apostles
Thursday, 19 October
Memory of the Church
Friday, 20 October
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 21 October
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 22 October
Liturgy of the Sunday