Memory of Jesus crucified

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Memory of the dedication of the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere where the Community of Sant’Egidio prays every day.

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 11, 38-53

When King Demetrius saw that the country was at peace under his rule and that no resistance was offered him, he dismissed his forces, and sent all the men home, except for the foreign troops that he had recruited in the foreign island, thus incurring the enmity of the veterans who had served his ancestors.

Now Trypho, one of Alexander's former supporters, noting that all the troops were muttering against Demetrius, went to see Iamleku, the Arab who was bringing up Antiochus, Alexander's young son,

and repeatedly urged him to let him have the boy, so that he might succeed his father as king; he told him of Demetrius' decision and of the resentment it had aroused among his troops. He spent a long time there.

Jonathan, meanwhile, sent to ask King Demetrius to withdraw the garrisons from the Citadel in Jerusalem and from the other fortresses, since they were constantly fighting Israel.

Demetrius sent word back to Jonathan, 'Not only will I do this for you and for your nation, but I shall heap honours on you and your nation if I find a favourable opportunity.

For the present, you would do well to send me reinforcements, since all my troops have deserted.'

Jonathan sent three thousand experienced soldiers to him in Antioch; when they reached the king, he was delighted at their arrival.

The citizens crowded together in the centre of the city, to the number of some hundred and twenty thousand, intending to kill the king.

The king took refuge in the palace, while the citizens occupied the thoroughfares of the city and began to attack.

The king then called on the Jews for help; and these all rallied round him, then fanned out through the city, and that day killed about a hundred thousand of its inhabitants.

They fired the city, seizing a great deal of plunder at the same time, and secured the king's safety.

When the citizens saw that the Jews had the city at their mercy, their courage failed them, and they made an abject appeal to the king,

'Give us the right hand of peace, and let the Jews stop their fight against us and the city.'

They threw down their arms and made peace. The Jews were covered in glory, in the eyes of the king and of everyone else in his kingdom. Having won renown in his kingdom, they returned to Jerusalem laden with booty.

Thus, King Demetrius sat all the more securely on his royal throne, and the country was quiet under his government.

But he gave the lie to all the promises he had made, and changed his attitude to Jonathan, giving nothing in return for the services Jonathan had rendered him, but thwarting him at every turn.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Thinking now to be safe on his throne, Demetrius tried to make his kingdom even more stable. He dismissed, however, the bulk of the army thinking he had no more use for them: he asked the soldiers to give up their weapons and did not pay the wages expected in time of peace, as previous kings had in order to ensure their loyalty in times of emergency. He maintained in the army only the mercenaries he had hired in Crete and in the islands, as told by Joseph Flavius, the ancient Jewish historian. The king became increasingly unpopular, and Trypho, one of the generals of Alexander, took advantage of it. Councillor Trypho (he adopted the nickname “intemperate” after his victory over Demetrius II) was a native of Apamea and had served in the army of Demetrius I. He then joined Alexander’s side and then that of Ptolemy. Jonathan informed of what was happening in Syria, decided to ask the king to grant him the evacuation of Syrian troops who occupied the Citadel of the Kara and other garrisons in Judea. In short, he wanted to take advantage of this situation to free himself from the presence of foreign troops in the entire region. Demetrius accepted the request and sent word to Jonathan: “Not only will I do these things for you and your nation, but I will confer great honour on you and your nation, if I find an opportunity.” In return, he asked to send soldiers to help him: “Now then, you will do well to send me men who will help me, for all my troops have revolted.” Jonathan sent an army of three thousand men to Antioch, where they saved the king from a revolt that had broken out in that city. Joseph Flavius recounts that at first the soldiers were overwhelmed and forced to take refuge in the royal palace. But then they climbed on the roofs and managed, through launching arrows to disperse the crowd and to save the king. The Jewish soldiers obviously “gained glory in the sight of the king and of all the people in his kingdom and they returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of spoil.” Although booty was collected, this victory did not help the Jews, because Demetrius did not keep his word and, “treated him [Jonathan] very harshly.” Maybe Jonathan had relied more on the alliance with Demetrius than on the one with the Lord, who never betrays his people.