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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

MATTATHIAS (Holy Warriors Part 55)

Today’s readings:

1 Maccabees 2:15-29

Psalm 50:1-2,5-6,14-15

Luke 19:41-44

Jesus lamented for Jerusalem, the holy city, because it “did not recognize the time of (its) visitation.” (Lk 19:44c). Jesus was the Prince of Peace and had come to bring peace (shalom) to God’s people, but the people rejected him. So they would suffer the consequences. They would be devastated by their enemies.

It is the same situation today. Christians are those who accepted Jesus. But today many Christians have again rejected him. And we are suffering the consequences.

* There are very many conflicts, some very bloody. Societies, and even families, are torn apart. The world is enmeshed in darkness and evil. There is no peace. “If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Lk 19:42). Only in Jesus can there be peace. Not in the United Nations. Not in the social work of well-meaning individuals. But the world, including many in the Christian world, have rejected Jesus. So there is no peace.

* Those who still want to live out their Christian faith are being persecuted, not just at the hands of non-Christians but even fellow Christians. “They will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.” (Lk 19:43b). In the Christian West, there is an all-out assault against faith, family and life. The legal, economic, political and cultural systems are being weaponized to prevent Christians from freely living out their faith.

* There is a concerted and determined effort to promote the culture of death, especially abortion. “They will smash you to the ground and your children within you” (Lk 19:44a). Even politicians who claim to be devout Catholics are rabidly pro-abortion. Abortion is being elevated by its proponents to the level not just of a human right but even a sacrament.

* Modernists are aggressively pushing their agenda, backed by powerful economic and political forces. LGBT forces are imposing their will on everyone, including Catholic schools, public libraries and churches. Their goal is to totally destroy Judeo-Christian life, morality and culture. “They will not leave one stone upon another within you” (Lk 19:44b). They are dismantling the culture of life, stone by stone.

In the face of this all-out assault, many Christians have become complicit, or have just remained silent, cowering in fear. The apostasy continues. We are losing this war. There is a need for holy warriors to rise up. Such were Mattathias and his sons.

The Greek king Antiochus had conquered Israel and had instituted religious persecution, attempting to stamp out the Jewish faith, putting to death all those who resisted. Is not this what is happening today? Radical Islamists and fundamentalist Hindus force conversion by Christians. But even within the Church in Christian lands, modernists and secular humanists are assaulting the authentic Christian faith, effectively trying to stamp it out and replace it with a man-centered model.

Mattathias resisted, and rose in rebellion against the king. Mattathias shows us the way to becoming holy warriors today.

* We are not to conform to the zeitgeist, no matter how the powers-that-be try to coerce us. “Yet I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors.” (1 Mc 2:20).

* We will not obey immoral laws. “We will not obey the words of the king by departing from our religion in the slightest degree.” (1 Mc 2:22). What is legal is not necessarily moral or right. A prime example would be abortion, but there are many other immoral laws.

* We must be zealous for God and His work. “He was filled with zeal” (1 Mc 2:24a). We cannot just allow the forces of evil to overrun the world and even our Church. Zeal for the house of the Lord must consume us, just as it did with Jesus, who violently drove the merchants and moneychangers out of the temple.

* We must fight fiercely for what is just and right and good. “His heart was moved and his just fury was aroused” (1 Mc 2:24b). Is righteous anger still aroused today, seeing all the evil around us? Now let us not kill those who “offer sacrifice on the altar of Modein” (1 Mc 2:23b) as Mattathias did. But yes, let us be militant. Are we who remain in this world not called the Church Militant? Let us be aggressive not just in resisting the enemy, but in moving forward the cause of Christ.

* We must be willing to suffer the consequences. “Then he and his sons fled to the mountains, leaving behind in the city all their possessions.” (1 Mc 2:28). We face a very powerful enemy, backed by powerful earthly forces that dominate the social, cultural and economic environment. Those who resist can be charged and end up paying heavy fines, closure of business, and even prison. But just like the first apostles, we must be willing to leave everything behind in order to follow and serve Christ.

* We must strengthen our community as the environment where we have support and where Christ is still at the center. “At that time many who sought righteousness and justice went out into the wilderness to settle there” (1 Mc 2:29). We have the option of going to church in parishes that do not condone immorality and wrongdoing, and shun parishes that are infested by liberals, both clergy and parishioners, and who celebrate LGBT. We have the option of moving into states or provinces that are more pro-God, pro-family and pro-life. But if those options are not practicable, we can strengthen our community life and mission where we are.

Our life is to be counter-cultural. We are to be in the world but not of the world. We are to resist the zeitgeist. In this, all members of the family are important. We are Missionary Families of Christ. Even as many Catholics have left the Church or are even acting against the authentic faith, we must remain steadfast. We must never yield to the culture of the day. “Many of Israel joined them, but Mattathias and his sons drew together.” (1 Mc 2:16). Like Joshua we say, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Like Mattathias we say, “I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors.” (1 Mc 2:20).

God says to us, “Gather my loyal ones to me, those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Ps 50:5). Do we as MFC not have a covenant with our God? Are we not to remain totally faithful and loyal to the Lord? We must live out every element of our covenant. “Fulfill your vows to the Most High.” (Ps 50:14b).

This war is brutal. We will be bruised and bloodied. Even now, the enemy moves inexorably forward. These are times of great distress. But where evil abounds, grace abounds even more. So these are great times for the authentic people of God. Jesus, who has already crushed the head of the serpent, leads us to victory. “Then call on me on the day of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.” (Ps 50:15).

Let our war cry as holy warriors be: “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow me!” (1 Mc 2:27). Ho-wa!!

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