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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

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Maccabees 9, 50-73

Bacchides went back to Jerusalem and began fortifying some of the Judaean towns: the fortresses of Jericho, Emmaus, Beth-Horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pharathon and Tephon, with high walls and barred gates,

and stationed a garrison in each of them to harass Israel.

He also fortified the town of Beth-Zur, Gezer and the Citadel, and placed troops in them with supplies of provisions.

He took the sons of the leading men of the country as hostages, and had them placed under guard in the Citadel of Jerusalem.

In the year 153, in the second month, Alcimus ordered the demolition of the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary, destroying the work of the prophets. Alcimus had just begun the demolition

when he suffered a stroke, and his work was interrupted. His mouth became obstructed, and his paralysis made him incapable of speaking at all or giving directions to his household;

it was not long before he died in great agony.

On the death of Alcimus, Bacchides went back to the king, and Judaea was left in peace for two years.

The renegades then all agreed on a plan. 'Now is the time,' they said, 'while Jonathan and his supporters are living in peace and are full of confidence, for us to bring back Bacchides, and he will arrest the lot of them in one night.'

So they went to him and reached an understanding.

Bacchides at once set out with a large force, and sent secret instructions to all his allies in Judaea to seize Jonathan and his supporters. But they were unable to do this because their plan became known,

and Jonathan and his men arrested some fifty of the men of the country who were ringleaders in the plot, and put them to death.

Jonathan and Simon then retired with their partisans to Beth-Bassi in the desert; they rebuilt the ruinous parts of the place and fortified it.

When Bacchides heard this, he mustered his whole force and notified his adherents in Judaea.

He then proceeded to lay siege to Beth-Bassi, the fighting was protracted, and he constructed siege-engines.

Jonathan, however, leaving his brother Simon in the town, broke out into the countryside with a handful of men.

He launched a blow at Odomera and his brothers, and at the sons of Phasiron in their encampment; whereupon, these too came into the struggle, joining forces with him.

Simon and his people, meanwhile, made a sortie from the town and set fire to the siege-engines.

Taking the offensive against Bacchides, they defeated him. He was greatly disconcerted to find that his plan and his assault had come to nothing,

and vented his anger on those renegades who had induced him to enter the country, putting many of them to death; he then decided to take his own troops home.

Discovering this, Jonathan sent envoys to negotiate peace terms and the release of prisoners with him.

Bacchides agreed to this, accepting his proposals and swearing never to seek occasion to harm him for the rest of his life.

Having surrendered to Jonathan those prisoners he had earlier taken in Judaea, he turned about and withdrew to his own country, and never again came near their frontiers.

The sword no longer hung over Israel, and Jonathan settled in Michmash, where he began to judge the people and to rid Israel of the godless.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This second part of chapter nine ends with the restoration of peace between the Jews and Bacchides and after having narrated the escalation of the conflict, the author concludes the passage writing, “Thus the sword ceased from Israel. Jonathan settled in Michmash and began to judge the people; and he destroyed the godless out of Israel” (v. 73). For Bacchides, indeed, it was not a spontaneous decision. He had to come to peace as a result of the continuous defeats he suffered by the hands of the Jews. The initial choice was to pursue a definitive victory against Jonathan, to the point of undertaking an extraordinary work of fortification of some cities that had been the scene of previous military operations, such as Emmaus, Beth-horon, Beth-zur, Gazara, and also the [citadel] Akra of Jerusalem, where he held Jewish prisoners hostage. Even Alcimus, on his side, began the renovation of the Temple by tearing down the wall that separated “the inner court of the sanctuary” where the Israelites had access and from the outer courtyard where also the Gentiles could enter. In this way, however, he destroyed “the work of the prophets” who had built the temple. This affront brought upon him the punishment of God with an attack of paralysis. Bacchides succeeded in suppressing the resistance of the Jews for two years. Then he wanted to organize a conspiracy to capture Jonathan, but he escaped to Bethbasi, an old fort to the south of Bethlehem, which was adequately fortified. Bacchides went towards the city to try to conquer it. Jonathan was very skilful; by using raids he weakened the Syrian army and also gathered allies among neighbouring tribes. Then he waged a final attack against Bacchides and defeated him: “They fought with Bacchides, and he was crushed by them. They pressed him very hard, for his plan and his expedition had been in vain” (v. 68). The author emphasizes the humiliation of Bacchides for the crushing defeat. Such was the discouragement that he decided to return to his country. But he did not fail to vent his anger against those Jewish traitors (“renegades”) that had not given him the right information about Jonathan’s actual forces. He then thought about making an agreement of peace with the Jews. Once he heard about this, without much hesitation, Jonathan sent messengers to Bacchides and skilfully discussed peace. Jonathan settled in Michmash, a town located north of Jerusalem, on the road that came down from Bethel to Jericho and had five years of peace during which he pursued his policy of exemplary punishment of the wicked wherever possible. The author compares him to the judges of ancient times, that is, a warrior fighting the battles of Heaven.

Memory of Jesus crucified

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