Scripture: 1st Reading: 1Macc4,36-37,52-59; Resp. Psalm: 1Chr29,10-12; Gosp. Accl.: Jn10,27; Gospel: Lk19,45-48
The zeal for the house of God consumed Matthatias and his sons. The name of Yahweh that was profaned became the rallying point of their rebellion. The cult and worship of God that was destroyed by the introduction of pagan practises energized them to take a stand against the foreign locusts that came for the total destruction of the faith of the people in their supreme God.
The covenant that was debased and replaced with the cult and worship of human person, the king, was what galvanized these God fearing souls to risk everything to protect and defend the rights of the Living God over the lives of His people.
God was with them because they had no personal agenda to fulfill. They were not using the name of Yahweh as a spring board to personal privileges. They had just one aim: that the name of God be held holy once more in the hearts of His people. They did this with single minded devotion and passion. God saw into their hearts. God blessed their efforts. The enemy was defeated by this upstart of an army.
The very first act after their victory was the cleansing and re-dedication of the temple that had been profaned and soiled by pagan sacrifices. A new altar was built to replace the one that was desecrated by the abominable offering that was offered on it. It was dedicated with songs and melodious music from instruments at the very season and on the very day that the gentiles had profaned it.
The people were re-consecrated to God. There was great gladness among them. The reproach of the gentiles was removed from the midst of the people. That re-dedication became a call to more committed worship of Yahweh. The courage of Matthatias and his sons ensured that the profanation of the Holy name of Yahweh never stood the test of time. The abomination of the enemy was removed.
Our Lord manifested that same holy zeal and anger at the way the temple that was meant for worship purposes, a place of encounter with Yahweh, the meeting place of heaven and earth, was turned into a place of commerce and business deals. The rot in the temple, its desecration through these unholy acts of trading and shady deals, brought out our Lord's holy anger.
Our Lord, justifying His action, said His house that was a house of prayer had been turned to a den of robbers. It was not surprising that the chief priests, the scribes and the principal men of the people who benefited financially from those who perpetrated this rot, became infuriated at the actions of our Lord and sought to destroy Him.
Many of us have no zeal for anything. We chicken out once our comfort zones are being threatened. We stand up to be counted only for our comfort and if our comfort is threatened, we are prepared to renege on our faith commitment. How many are in positions of authority who can make a difference by their actions and pronouncements? How many do so in reality? How many believe that the temporal order must be permeated with the spirit of the gospel of truth preached by our Lord and for which He laid down His life?
St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, martyrs both of Vietnamese and European descent, gave us through their lives and the shedding of their blood, the true meaning of discipleship. They endured the most horrendous of tortures. Their zeal for the Lord made their sufferings possible to bear. They gave their all to the Lord. They died His type of death.
Like Matthatias and his sons they challenge us to rise up and be counted on the side of truth and justice and right. Their zeal and courage challenge our cowardice and fear. Their self forgetfulness question our love of self, their total love for God challenges our half hearted dedication and utilitarian commitments to God. May St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions pray for us.
Let us pray: "O God, source and origin of all fatherhood, who kept the Martyr's Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions faithful to the Cross of your Son, even to the shedding of their blood, grant, through their intercession, that, spreading your love among our brothers and sisters, we may be your children both in name and in truth." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.