18Nov 18 November, 2019. Monday of Week 33

1st Reading: 1 Maccabees (1:10-15 etc)

How the Jews suffered under the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes

There arose from them 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 arose in Israel and misled many, saying, “Let us 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.

Responsorial: Psalm 118:53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158

R./: Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands

Lord I am seized with indignation
at the wicked who forsake your law.
Though the nets of the wicked ensnared me
I remembered your law. (R./)

Redeem me from man’s oppression
and I will keep your precepts.
Those who harm me unjustly draw near.
They are far from your law. (R./)

Salvation is far from the wicked
who are heedless of your statutes.
I look at the faithless with disgust;
they ignore your promise. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 18:35-43

Jesus cures a blind man, who then praises God and follows him

As Jesus 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.


The gift of sight


The rebellion of the Maccabees was against the attempt to force pagan customs on Israel, around the year 168 B.C. Their political master, king Antiochus of Syria, wanted to impose his own cultural and religious preferences upon all nations subject to him. So the Jews were also pressured to conform to the kind of Hellenistic beliefs and practices that were popular in Syria since it was conquered by Alexander the Great. Antiochus provoked a military crisis by trying to suppress the Jewish religion and make them embrace the ways of the Greeks. This kind of crisis is mirrored in today’s Ireland, whose influential elite are imposing a totally secularist lifestyle.

The blind man sitting at the Jericho gate needed his eyesight restored, so he asked Jesus aloud, “Lord, that I may see!” Undeterred by the bystanders who tried to silence him, he persisted and shoulted even more loudly. After receiving back the gift of his sight, he began to follow Jesus, giving glory to God. His life now had a new focus. He could see his wife and children, his friends and surroundings, as treasured gifts. The shining sun, the palm trees in the oasis, the birds gliding in the sky, the bees buzzing in his garden, this whole wonderful world was visible as he followed Jesus along the way.

Our conversion may not be as total or dramatic, but we should ask for the vision to see the world and others as God’s blessing, and to see how the Lord is leading us, right here and now.

He kept on shouting! There is something endearing about the blind man shouting his request until finally someone listened. In the face of disapproval from the crowd, he perseveres in asking for what he needs. When he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me,” they told him to keep quiet. But he simply called out louder, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Undeterred by other people’s intolerant attitude, the blind man models for us what persevering prayer looks like. It was driven by his need and his confidence in Jesus.

Our own prayers can be driven by some deep need we feel. In bringing our need to God we open ourselves for a blessing, just as the blind man did when he brought his need to Jesus. He did not cease to pray when he was healed, though now his prayer was changed to thanksgiving and praise. Gratitude may not come as naturally to us as the prayer of need. But we all have much to thank God for. The blind man teaches us not to forget to say thanks for all the ways the Lord has blessed us, and especially for having the sight of our eyes to admire our world.


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