Memory of the Poor

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Memory of Pope Saint Calixtus (†222). He was a friend to the poor and founded the house of prayer on which later would be built the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Muslims celebrate the Feast of the Sacrifice (Aid-al Adha).

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 3, 10-26

Next, Apollonius mustered the gentiles and a large force from Samaria to make war on Israel.

When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him and routed and killed him. Many fell wounded, and the survivors took to flight.

Their spoils were seized and the sword of Apollonius was taken by Judas, who used it to fight with throughout his life.

On hearing that Judas had raised a mixed force of believers and seasoned fighters,

Seron, commander of the Syrian troops, said, 'I shall make a name for myself and gain honour in the kingdom if I fight Judas and those supporters of his who are so contemptuous of the king's orders.'

He therefore launched another expedition, with a strong army of unbelievers to support him in taking revenge on the Israelites.

He had nearly reached the descent of Beth-Horon when Judas went out to confront him with a handful of men.

But as soon as these saw the force advancing to meet them, they said to Judas, 'How can we, few as we are, engage such overwhelming numbers? We are exhausted as it is, not having had anything to eat today.'

'It is easy', Judas answered, 'for a great number to be defeated by a few; indeed, in the sight of Heaven, deliverance, whether by many or by few, is all one;

for victory in war does not depend on the size of the fighting force: Heaven accords the strength.

They are coming against us in full-blown insolence and lawlessness to destroy us, our wives and our children, and to plunder us;

but we are fighting for our lives and our laws,

and he will crush them before our eyes; do not be afraid of them.'

When he had finished speaking, he made a sudden sally against Seron and his force and overwhelmed them.

Judas pursued them down from Beth-Horon as far as the plain. About eight hundred of their men fell, and the rest took refuge in the country of the Philistines.

Judas and his brothers began to be feared, and alarm seized the surrounding peoples.

His name even reached the king's ears, and among the nations there was talk of Judas and his battles.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The action of Judas concerned the Syrian authorities quite a bit so that they decided to repress through force any idea of rebellion. Apollonius, who had already taken terrible reprisals against the Jews in Jerusalem, led the first action (1:29). In his army there were also Samaritan soldiers, who were traditionally hostile to the Jews. What is said about this first clash is only that Judas killed the majority of the enemy army and took the sword of Apollonius, who was killed, as David did after killing Goliath (1 Sam 17:51). After Apollonius’ action, there was that of Seron, his superior in the militant hierarchy, who wanted to fix the check suffered by his subordinate Apollonius. He gathered an army stronger than Judas’, both because of number and of tactic skills. Judas’ army was made of a small group of “pious” Jews (Hasideans) and some badly equipped and suffering warriors due to their vagabond life. After seeing so numerous an army, they felt disheartened and told Judas, “How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and so strong multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today.” But Judas, recalling the faith in the Lord, answered, “It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven.” And he continued: “They come against us in great insolence and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us. But we fight for our lives and our laws. He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.” The entire story of the people of Israel is marked by this conviction of faith: it is not the strength of humans that saves Israel but the power of God that guides and protects it. With his words, Judas strengthens the faith of his troops, defeating the enemy army that is far better equipped and more powerful. This is the logic of faith which century after century reaches us as well: our salvation is in God only.