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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

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Maccabees 10, 51-89

Alexander sent ambassadors to Ptolemy king of Egypt, with this message:

'Since I have returned to my kingdom, have ascended the throne of my ancestors, have gained control by crushing Demetrius, and so recovered our country-

for I fought him and we crushed both him and his army, and I now occupy his royal throne-

let us now make a treaty of friendship. Give me your daughter in marriage: as your son-in-law, I shall give you, and her, presents which are worthy of you.'

King Ptolemy replied as follows: 'Happy the day when you returned to the land of your ancestors and ascended their royal throne!

I shall at once do for you what your letter proposes; but meet me at Ptolemais, so that we can see one another, and I shall become your father-in-law, as you have asked.'

Ptolemy left Egypt with his daughter Cleopatra and reached Ptolemais in the year 162.

King Alexander went to meet him, and Ptolemy gave him the hand of his daughter Cleopatra and celebrated her wedding in Ptolemais with great magnificence, as kings do.

King Alexander then wrote to Jonathan to come and meet him.

Jonathan made his way in state to Ptolemais and met the two kings; he gave them and their friends silver and gold, and many gifts, and made a favourable impression on them.

A number of scoundrels, the pest of Israel, combined to denounce him, but the king paid no attention to them.

In fact, the king commanded that Jonathan should be divested of his own garments and clothed in the purple, which was done.

The king then seated him by his side and said to his officers, 'Escort him into the centre of the city and proclaim that no one is to bring charges against him on any count; no one is to molest him for any reason.'

And so, when his accusers saw the honour done him by this proclamation, and Jonathan himself invested in the purple, they all fled.

The king did him the honour of enrolling him among the First Friends, and appointed him commander-in-chief and governor-general.

Jonathan then returned to Jerusalem in peace and gladness.

In the year 165, Demetrius son of Demetrius came from Crete to the land of his ancestors.

When King Alexander heard of it he was plunged into gloom, and retired to Antioch.

Demetrius confirmed Apollonius as governor of Coele-Syria; the latter assembled a large force, encamped at Jamnia and sent the following message to Jonathan the high priest:

'You are entirely alone in rising against us, and now I find myself ridiculed and reproached on your account. Why do you use your authority to our disadvantage in the mountains?

If you are so confident in your forces, come down now to meet us on the plain and let us take each other's measure there; on my side I have the strength of the towns.

Ask and learn who I am and who the others supporting us are. You will hear that you cannot stand up to us, since your ancestors were twice routed on their own ground,

nor will you now be able to withstand the cavalry or so great an army on the plain, where there is neither rock, nor stone, nor refuge of any kind.'

On hearing Apollonius' words, Jonathan's spirit was roused; he picked ten thousand men and left Jerusalem, and his brother Simon joined him with reinforcements.

He drew up his forces outside Joppa, the citizens having shut him out, since Apollonius had a garrison in Joppa. When they began the attack,

the citizens took fright and opened the gates, and Jonathan occupied Joppa.

Hearing this, Apollonius marshalled three thousand cavalry and a large army and made his way to Azotus as though intending to march through, while in fact pressing on into the plain, since he had a great number of cavalry on which he was relying.

Jonathan pursued him as far as Azotus, where the armies joined battle.

Now, Apollonius had left a thousand horsemen in concealment behind them.

Jonathan knew of this enemy position behind him; the horsemen surrounded his army, firing their arrows into his men from morning till evening.

But the troops stood firm, as Jonathan had ordered. Once the cavalry was exhausted,

Simon sent his own troops into attack against the phalanx, which he cut to pieces and routed.

The cavalry scattered over the plain and fled to Azotus, where they took sanctuary in Beth-Dagon, the temple of their idol.

Jonathan, however, set fire to Azotus and the surrounding towns, plundered them, and burned down the temple of Dagon, with all the fugitives who had crowded into it.

The enemy losses, counting those who fell by the sword and those burnt to death, totalled about eight thousand men.

Jonathan then left and pitched camp outside Ascalon, where the citizens came out to meet him with great ceremony.

Jonathan then returned to Jerusalem with his followers, laden with booty.

In the event, when King Alexander heard what had happened, he awarded Jonathan further honours:

he sent him the golden brooch, of the kind customarily presented to the King's Cousins, and gave him proprietary rights over Ekron and the land adjoining it.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Following his victory over Demetrius, Alexander moved from Ptolemais to the royal palace of Antioch and sent ambassadors to Ptolemy, king of Egypt, informing him that he had taken power. Alexander then sought an alliance by marrying Ptolemy’s daughter Cleopatra and, since he also wished to make an alliance with Jonathan, invited him to the wedding banquet, where Ptolemy was also present. During the course of the feast, and despite the opposition of “malcontents of Israel, renegades” (61), Jonathan was officially invested. He was clothed in purple, given the title of “chief friend of the king”, and appointed by edict as general (strategós) and governor (meridárche) of the enlarged kingdom of Judea, a narrative which recalls the story of Joseph when he was proclaimed vizier of Egypt. All this took place within the Seleucid Empire when the people of Israel remained under the control of the central government in Antioch; but even in this situation of dependency, Jonathan worked to ensure the best possible conditions for his people. Such is the path of salvation which traverses human history; at times it follows a tortuous itinerary. Three years later a new pretender arrived on the scene, Demetrius II, son of the killed Demetrius I. Having sailed from Crete with a band of mercenaries led by Lasthenes (11:31), Demetrius disembarked in Cilicia and soon came to represent a serious threat to Alexander, who hurriedly returned home to fortify Antioch. Demetrius then made Apollonius – probably the same Apollonius who had helped his father, Demetrius I, to flee to Rome – governor of the region of Celesyria, which stretched from the Euphrates to the borders of Egypt and was the westernmost province of the Seleucid Empire. Apollonius immediately took to the field, besieging Jamnia. Jonathan responded to this attack by attempting to outflank his adversary; he departed from Jerusalem with ten thousand men and, with the help of his brother Simon, took Jaffa in order to cut Apollonius’ lines of communication and supply. However Apollonius responded cleverly; he pretended to retreat across the plains towards Azotus but left a strong troop of horsemen behind him to close Jonathan in a pincer movement. Jonathan fell into the trap but managed to fight off the enemy and, when his adversary’s cavalry became wearied by battle, with the help of Simon’s men (who had perhaps been held in reserve) he attacked and defeated the enemy. Jonathan followed the fugitives to Azotus, put the city and surrounding area on fire and massacred those who had taken refuge in the fortress of Beth-dagon. He then returned in triumph to Jerusalem where Alexander, pleased at his victory, rewarded him with possession of Ekron and its surrounding territories, and named him “king’s kinsman,” meaning a member of the highest class of dignitaries in Hellenistic courts, who had the privilege of wearing a gold buckle and a purple gown.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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