Thursday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Love freely offered calls for a response, but false promises with ulterior motives also clamor for our attention. Both sound in today’s readings and in our lives. Which call do we seek to hear more clearly? Antiochus’ messengers make strong arguments to Mattathias of Modein. 1) Many others have already obeyed the king (so you won’t be alone, but will be joining others). 2) The special title of “King’s Friend” (along with the various perks of that title) will be given if only you perform the sacrifices the king commands. Mattathias will have none of it. He immediately recognizes the cheapness behind the glitter of the messenger’s words, and he states in no uncertain terms his fidelity to God. “I and my sons and my kin will keep to the covenant of our fathers.” (1 Mc 2:20) The covenant, the true promise of God, the already existing relationship which Mattathias has with the Lord, is far more valuable in his eyes than the honor of being called “Friend” to Antiochus Epiphanes.
In contrast to such a first call, we have those to whom Jesus gave sign after sign to amongst the Pharisees and Scribes who held high places in Jerusalem. But they continued to think that something else would bring them peace: living like Dives while ignoring poor Lazarus, withholding forgiveness, not realizing that ingratitude is worse than leprosy, knowing when the day of judgment will be, giving up on prayer or praying only to make oneself feel better than others, all the things that Jesus has addressed in the time leading up to today’s lament. Yet, by turning away from Jesus who gives peace, and seeking something else, they did not recognize the time of their visitation. Today let us listen to the Lord, let us ask Him to open our eyes once more to our time of visitation, to have our ears attentive to His call, so that we may respond with haste when he asks us to forgive, or be grateful, humble, or generous. Then, we will recognize temptation for what it is, and will know to chose the peace that comes from fidelity to covenant with the true King.