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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 13, 1-30

Simon heard that Trypho had collected a large army to invade and devastate Judaea,

and when he saw how the people were quaking with fear, he went up to Jerusalem, called the people together,

and exhorted them thus, 'You know yourselves how much I and my brothers and my father's family have done for the laws and the sanctuary; you know what wars and hardships we have experienced.

That is why my brothers are all dead, for Israel's sake, and I am the only one left.

Far be it from me, then, to be sparing of my own life in any time of oppression, for I am not worth more than my brothers.

Rather will I avenge my nation and the sanctuary and your wives and children, now that the foreigners are all united in malice to destroy us.'

The people's spirit rekindled as they listened to his words,

and they shouted back at him, 'You are our leader in place of Judas and your brother Jonathan.

Fight our battles for us, and we will do whatever you tell us.'

So he assembled all the fighting men and hurried on with completing the walls of Jerusalem, fortifying the whole perimeter.

He sent a considerable force to Joppa under Jonathan son of Absalom who drove out the inhabitants and remained there in occupation.

Trypho now left Ptolemais with a large army to invade Judaea, taking Jonathan with him under guard.

Simon pitched camp in Adida, facing the plain.

When Trypho learned that Simon had taken the place of his brother Jonathan and that he intended to join battle with him, he sent envoys to him with this message,

'Your brother Jonathan was in debt to the royal exchequer for the offices he held; that is why we are detaining him.

If you send a hundred talents of silver and two of his sons as hostages, to make sure that on his release he does not revolt against us, we shall release him.'

Although Simon was aware that the message was a ruse, he sent for the money and the boys for fear of incurring great hostility from the people,

who would have said that Jonathan had died because Simon would not send Trypho the money and the children.

He therefore sent both the boys and the hundred talents, but Trypho broke his word and did not release Jonathan.

Next, Trypho set about the invasion and devastation of the country; he made a detour along the Adora road, but Simon and his army confronted him wherever he attempted to go.

The men in the Citadel kept sending messengers to Trypho, urging him to get through to them by way of the desert and send them supplies.

Trypho organised his entire cavalry to go, but that night it snowed so heavily that he could not get through for the snow, so he left there and moved off into Gilead.

As he approached Baskama he killed Jonathan, who was buried there.

Trypho turned back and regained his own country.

Simon sent and recovered the bones of his brother Jonathan, and buried him in Modein, the town of his ancestors.

All Israel kept solemn mourning for him and long bewailed him.

Over the tomb of his father and brothers, Simon raised a monument high enough to catch the eye, using dressed stone back and front.

He erected seven pyramids facing each other, for his father and mother and his four brothers,

surrounding them with a structure consisting of tall columns surmounted by trophies of arms to their everlasting memory and, beside the trophies of arms, ships sculpted on a scale to be seen by all who sail the sea.

Such was the monument he constructed at Modein, and it is still there today.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Trypho, self-assured by his victory at Ptolemais, immediately sought to exploit the loss of morale among the Jews - leaderless after the loss of Jonathan - by invading the region. Simon, the last surviving son of Mattathias, realised how serious the situation was and hastily went to Jerusalem to reorganise the people and respond to the imminent danger. He began by reminding them of his family’s and his brothers’ zeal for the Law of God and the Temple, and of how they had given their lives in order to defend the people and their faith. He added, “And now, far be it from me to spare my life in any time of distress, for I am not better than my brothers. But I will avenge my nation and the sanctuary and your wives and children, for all the nations have gathered together out of hatred to destroy us” (5-6). Simon, while he certainly did not consider himself to be better than his brothers, felt that the responsibility for leading the people had settled upon him. He was in Adida (12:38), which was probably where he had established his headquarters as the general of the costal region, but having heard of Trypho’s intentions, and in the light of the Jews’ loss of morale, he let his heart be moved and agreed to take on his brother’s mantle. Compassion for others always causes us to abandon our own self and encourages us to help others. Emotionally stirred, Simon pronounced impassioned words which rekindled hope in the hearts of the Jewish people, who together “answered in a loud voice, ‘You are our leader in place of Judas and your brother Jonathan. Fight our battles, and all that you say to us we will do.’” (8-9). The same events and the same words were had also been used at the death of Judas (9:30). Simon set to immediately, completing defensive work on the walls of Jerusalem and reinforcing the garrison at Joppa, from where he drove out the native people for fear they would consign the city to Trypho. The latter, bringing Jonathan with him as prisoner, left Ptolemais to invade Judea but, before starting the battle, he sought to deceive Simon by promising he would release Jonathan if given one hundred talents and Jonathan’s two sons as hostage. Although he knew the offer was false, Simon agreed in order to avoid the malcontent of his own people. As usual Trypho broke his word; indeed, emboldened by this first success, he sought to undermine the Jewish resistance, but his efforts were in vain. Therefore, he decided to return to Syria but not without having first committed another crime by killing Jonathan. Simon, having recovered his brother’s corpse, had him buried in Modin, the city from which the Maccabees originated, and he built a mausoleum in honour of all the members of his family, recalling their heroic deeds in defence of the people of Israel.

Memory of Jesus crucified

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