Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
This week examples are set before us of the just and unjust. We begin with the reading from the first book of Maccabees, which describes Antiochus Epiphanes as the epitome of the unjust ruler. Not only does he set up false gods, proclaim himself (blasphemously) to be a god, and force the people of Judah to do likewise; but he goes even further. Leaving the temple standing, he sets up his own gods on the altar of burnt sacrifice. The reading ends with a brief account of the just which will be fleshed out in the rest of the week’s readings: Many in Israel “preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die.” (1 Mcb 1:62-63) Such is the preference of the just. They know that with the Lord there is life, so they do not fear the greatness of sacrifices for His sake.
In today’s Gospel, a blind man hears that Jesus is near and cries out to him. Those around the blind man tell him to be quiet. But the blind man knows that with the Lord there is life. “Son of David, have pity on me!” (Lk 18:38-39) Our listening to the word of God is the giving of this life, is our clinging to the Lord whose mercy is our true joy. For this reason, when the tyrant Antiochus burned the Torah and persecuted the Jews, it was obvious what they were called to do: continue to serve the God who gives life rather than a false god who threatens death. Let us praise the Lord for the gift of life, and let us pray for those who suffer persecution for their worship of Him.