21 October 2012

Reflections for the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost

The lessons in the Divine Office for the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost (old calendar) are often taken from the Book of Machabees.

As St. John Chrysostom says: "Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, having invaded Judea and ravaged wholesale, forcing many Jews to give up the holy practices of their fathers, the Machabees remained steadfast and uncorrupted, amidst all these trials.  Traversing the whole country they gathered togehter all the faithful and loyal citizens whom they met, and even a great number of those who had allowed themselves to be discouaged or led astray, urging them to return to the law of their fathers.

These exhortations resulted in the raising of an army composed of men of the utmost bravery who were fighting not so much for their wives and children and servants; not to ward off slavery and ruin from their country, but for the faith of their fathers and the rights of their nation. God Himself was their leader. Moreover, when they went into battle to sacrifice their lives, this alone was enough to put the enemy to rout; in fact they trusted less in their arms than in the cause for which they had armed, which they considered sufficient to secure victory, even if armor were altogether lacking.

Christian life is a struggle for the glory of God and the salvation of His people. We must bring to this struggle, which is the duty of every Christian, the same fervour as was displayed by the Machabees, and remember, that for us, as for them, the faith of our fathers is at stake, the inheritance of our spiritual life which we ought to prize above all else. All these treasures, which we receive from God, and weak vessels that we are, bear in "vessels of clay," are continually threatened by the forces of evil which war against God. The struggle, says St. Paul, is not against men but against the wicked spirits ad their powerful, pernicious activity. And the Apostle calls on us to for this struggle with the arms of God.

This passage was taken from the St. Andrew's Missal for the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost. It would be hard not to argue that the world in the time of the Machabees was very muchy like our own and that we too need brave men to rise up, ready to sacrifice all not for some phony religion of niceness but in defense of the faith of our fathers which has been handed down to us.

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