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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 10, 1-21

In the year 160, Alexander, son of Antiochus Epiphanes, raised an army and occupied Ptolemais. He was well received, and there inaugurated his reign.

On hearing this, King Demetrius assembled a very large army and marched off to do battle with him.

Demetrius furthermore sent Jonathan a most conciliatory letter, promising to promote him in rank,

for, as he said, 'We had better move first to come to terms with these people before he makes common cause with Alexander against us;

he will not have forgotten all the wrongs we inflicted on him and his brothers, and on his nation.'

He even authorised him to raise an army, to manufacture arms, and to describe himself as his ally, and ordered the hostages in the Citadel to be surrendered to him.

Jonathan went straight to Jerusalem and read the letter in the hearing of the whole people and of the men in the Citadel.

They were terrified when they heard that the king had given him authority to raise an army.

The men in the Citadel surrendered the hostages to Jonathan, who handed them back to their parents.

Jonathan then took up residence in Jerusalem and began the rebuilding and restoration of the city.

He ordered those responsible for the work to build the walls and the defences round Mount Zion of squared stone blocks to make them stronger, and this was done.

The foreigners in the fortresses built by Bacchides abandoned them,

one after another leaving his post to go back to his own country.

Only at Beth-Zur were a few left of those who had forsaken the Law and the precepts, since this was their refuge.

King Alexander heard of all the promises Demetrius had sent to Jonathan, and he was also given an account of the battles and exploits of this man and his brothers and of the hardships they had endured.

'Shall we ever find another man like him?' he exclaimed. 'We must make him our friend and ally!'

He therefore wrote him a letter, addressing him in these terms:

'King Alexander to his brother Jonathan, greetings.

'You have been brought to our notice as a strong man of action and as someone who deserves to be our friend.

Accordingly, we have today appointed you high priest of your nation, with the title of "Friend of the King" ' -- he also sent him a purple robe and a golden crown-'and you are to study our interests and maintain friendly relations with us.'

Jonathan put on the sacred vestments in the seventh month of the year 160, on the feast of Shelters; he then set about raising troops and manufacturing arms in quantity.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The tenth chapter opens with the arrival of a new character, a certain Alexander Balas, who lived in Izmir, on the border of the kingdom of Pergamum, who claimed to be the son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Since he was urged on by the king of Pergamum, supported by the kingdoms of Cappadocia and Egypt as well as the Romans (all of which were interested in weakening the Seleucid Empire), Balas decided to enforce his alleged rights to the throne of Antioch. He reached Ptolemais where he was welcomed and supported by the many citizens who were dissatisfied with the severe government of Demetrius I and created many difficulties for him. Demetrius I, in fact, concerned about the danger that could arise from an alliance with Jonathan, hastened to gain for himself the support of the Jews by offering some honorary and military privileges: “So Demetrius gave him authority to recruit troops, to equip them with arms, and to become his ally; and he commanded that the hostages in the citadel should be released to him” (v. 6). Without showing his intentions too openly, Jonathan moved from Michmas to Jerusalem for the immediate implementation of the royal decree. Then he worked to rebuild the fortification wall that encircled the hill of the temple that had been demolished in the past by order of Antiochus IV and “began to rebuild and restore the city” (v. 10). He did not miss the chance to strengthen his power in Jerusalem. Many of the Gentiles, mostly merchants, who had settled in Jerusalem, seeing that Jonathan had regained power, left Jerusalem to return to their lands of origin. Once he was informed of the concessions made by Demetrius to the Jews, Alexander tried to overcome his rival with generosity by offering Jonathan the high priesthood that at that time was the supreme religious and civil authority of the Jewish people, as well as the title of “friend” of the king with the gift the purple and a golden crown. During the Festival of Booths of 152 BC, Jonathan wore for the first time the priestly vestments combining in himself both the civil and religious authorities. This event did not arouse reactions because Jonathan’s family belonged to one of the 24 priestly classes derived from Aaron. The Essenes, instead, considering that the acceptance by Jonathan of the priesthood position was improper, ceased to support the Maccabees and withdrew into the desert as a sign of protest. What seemed clear, however, was the new-found freedom of the Jewish people, under the leadership of Jonathan who had fought with intelligence so as to guarantee faith and the freedom to profess it.

Memory of the Poor

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