Prayer for the sick

Share On

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 2, 1-14

About then, Mattathias son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the line of Joarib, left Jerusalem and settled in Modein.

He had five sons, John known as Gaddi,

Simon called Thassi,

Judas called Maccabaeus,

Eleazar, called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus.

When he saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem,

he said, 'Alas that I should have been born to witness the ruin of my people and the ruin of the Holy City, and to sit by while she is delivered over to her enemies, and the sanctuary into the hand of foreigners.

'Her Temple has become like someone of no repute,

the vessels that were her glory have been carried off as booty, her babies have been slaughtered in her streets, her young men by the enemy's sword.

Is there a nation that has not claimed a share of her royal prerogatives, that has not taken some of her spoils?

All her ornaments have been snatched from her, her former freedom has become slavery.

See how the Holy Place, our beauty, our glory, is now laid waste, see how the gentiles have profaned it!

What have we left to live for?'

Mattathias and his sons tore their garments, put on sackcloth, and observed deep mourning.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After presenting in the first chapter the persecuting actions of Antiochus and the Hellenists, the sacred author starts describing the reaction of the Jews: the priest Mattathias, with his family, leaves Jerusalem and settles not very far, in Modein, where he rises a lamentation about the destiny of the holy city. Some Jews betrayed the covenant with God, and most of them risked suffering the persecution with too much resignation, while others awakened back to faith. The clearest example is, indeed, the one of Mattathias’ family. One of his five sons’ name is Judah, called Maccabeus (from here the title of the two books). The name “Maccabeus”, which to someone means “designated from God”, though likely it means “hammer”, to show the strength of Judas while combating the oppressors of Israel. He understood that the survival of the faith in the God of the Fathers was deeply connected to the national independence of the Jews. Mattathias, on his part, was aware that he could not passively assist the wickedness of the king, Antiochus, against the Jews. The intention of eradicating faith from the hearts of the people of God was clear. For this reason he questions: “Alas! Why was I born to see this, the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city, and to live there when it was given over to the enemy, the sanctuary given over to aliens?” There seems to be an echo of God’s words when He saw the agony of His people in Egypt: “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land” (Ex 3:7-8). Mattathias, in his decision of revolt, welcomes the same feeling of God for His people. Perhaps, many Jews, even if they did not betray the covenant, resigned to oppression and left the whole people in the hands of the “enemy.” The following words describe the tragedy of a people enslaved and devastated both in heart and daily life. Mattathias perceived the anger of God and becomes its interpreter: he understands that his life had to be lived to save his brothers and sisters. It was his vocation. This is the reason of his birth, otherwise: “What is life for?” Together with his sons, they decided to commit themselves to save the covenant with the Lord. The text says, they “tore their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned greatly.” In their hearts the responsibility for the entire people of God rose up. This is a valuable sign for us today: to discover again the personal responsibility of building the Church, of supporting and defending it, and of preserving it from evil. The question is true for us as well: what is life for if we do not spend it for the Church, for the community, and to change the world?