Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Remembrance of St. Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun with a deep sense of mission of the Church.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Maccabees 1, 16-28

Once Antiochus had seen his authority established, he determined to make himself king of Egypt and the ruler of both kingdoms.

He invaded Egypt in massive strength, with chariots and elephants (and cavalry) and a large fleet.

He engaged Ptolemy king of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned back and fled before his advance, leaving many casualties.

The fortified cities of Egypt were captured, and Antiochus plundered the country.

After his conquest of Egypt, in the year 143, Antiochus turned about and advanced on Israel and Jerusalem in massive strength.

Insolently breaking into the sanctuary, he removed the golden altar and the lamp-stand for the light with all its fittings,

together with the table for the loaves of permanent offering, the libation vessels, the cups, the golden censers, the veil, the crowns, and the golden decoration on the front of the Temple, which he stripped of everything.

He made off with the silver and gold and precious vessels; he discovered the secret treasures and seized them

and, removing all these, he went back to his own country, having shed much blood and uttered words of extreme arrogance.

There was deep mourning for Israel throughout the country:

Rulers and elders groaned; girls and young men wasted away; the women's beauty suffered a change;

every bridegroom took up a dirge, the bride sat grief-stricken on her marriage-bed.

The earth quaked because of its inhabitants and the whole House of Jacob was clothed with shame.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The author introduces King Antiochus Epiphanes who was determined to expand his kingdom. His first campaign is the conquest of Egypt. With a strong army, he faces and defeats Ptolemy, King of Egypt, and takes for himself a large booty. He then decides to head back North and on the way attacks Israel; he enters Jerusalem, goes up to the Temple and sacks it, taking away the golden altar, the lamp stand for the light, the table for the bread of the Presence and the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary and all of the other gold and silver utensils. The author describes the scene with a bitter tone: “he stripped it all off”. Before Antiochus leaves Jerusalem, he carries out a massacre, as did Nebuchadnezzar (2 K 25:14-15). The author notes that in light of such an outrage, “Israel mourned deeply in every community”, connecting to the style found in Lamentations, of which he echoes sentences and expressions. He writes that all, excluding no one, groans under the weight of this tragedy, even the land trembles. Confusion reigns. Indeed, when Jerusalem and the Temple are devastated and therefore the life and worship are impeded there, it is a blow to the heart of the people of Israel. The foreign king seeks nothing but to continue enriching himself and his own dominion over others. For this reason he cuts at the roots any sign of faith and worship. This is a sad episode that unfortunately repeats itself throughout Christian history and continues today. We recall the frequent attacks on Christian communities in many parts of the world, even on churches when people have gathered for prayer. They are defenceless believers, and yet men and women who are blinded by an extremist ideology attack them. This is a result of the diabolic will to destroy those who work for mercy and peace among people. The tension of martyrdom that we see throughout Maccabees remains a steadfast dynamic of faith, especially in Christianity; as Jesus warned, “A disciple is not above his teacher” (Mt 10:24).