14 Nov, Monday of Week 33
Also:Memorial of St Lawrence O’Toole, Patron of Dublin ;
observed in Dublin as a solemnity, with special readings:
(Ezekiel 36:24-28; Colossians 3:12-15; John 10:11-18)
Click for biographical notes on St Lawrence O’Toole
1 Macc 1:1ff. Amid the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, the abomination of desolation is set in the temple, a terrible humiliation upon Israel.
Lk 18:35ff. At the entrance to Jericho Jesus cures the blind man, who then begins to praise God and follow him.
Is Conversion Possible?
During the last two weeks of the church year it is not surprising that the readings focus on the violent end of one era and on the hope for a new and holier age. The era of the Maccabees was the historical background for the visionary book of Daniel, which in turn greatly influenced the New Testament Book of Revelation. Luke’s gospel brings us to the end of Jesus’ public ministry, to the place where his passion and death is about to unfold.
This liturgical arrangement follows contemporary Scripture scholarship, which sees Daniel and Revelation not as literal predictions of the exact date and circumstances of the end of the world, but as dramatic challenges to put aside the past and to begin a new and more consecrated way of life. The focus is not on when the world will end, but on the need for strong hope in the midst of violent persecution and to adopt changes in our way of living.
The blind man at the Jericho gate longed for the normal life that sight would allow him, so he begged Jesus for this gift, “Lord, that I may see!” But to receive his sight would involve new demands for him, altering his relationships to family and friends, responsibilities, his whole way of life. He was willing and eager to accept these challenges and take his chances. Once he received his sight, he began to follow Jesus, “giving glory to God.” His newly-shaped life was given a new focus. If he could now see his wife and children, he saw them as treasured gifts. The shining sun, the graceful palm trees clustered at the oasis, the birds that glided across the sky, even the bees that came out of the secret places in the desert between Jericho and Jerusalem, all this beautiful world was received in wonder as he followed Jesus along the way.
Our own conversion may not be as total nor as dramatic, but it is still very real and just as necessary. Perhaps we are like the people of Ephesus in the 1st Reading of cycle I. Like them, we may never have been truly bad people, as they are commended for their “patient endurance and strength.” If such is the case, we may wonder, what more can God ask of us? Nonetheless, God may be addressing our conscience as he did theirs, “I hold this against you – that you have turned aside from your early love. Remember the heights from which you have fallen. Repent and return to your former deeds.” Only we ourselves can know if these words are meant for us. We alone hold the memory of our early love, the ideals from which we may have fallen. These challenging words can be addressed to married people – to religious and priests – to lay apostolic ministers – to men and women in many secular or religious careers, “You have turned aside from your early love… Repent, and return to your former deed.”
First Reading: 1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63
From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.
In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.” This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.
Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that all should give up their particular customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.
Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. Very great wrath came upon Israel.
Gospel: Luke 18:35-43
As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.