Reflection for Thursday, November 23, 2017: 33rd Week in Ordinary Time.
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It is hard for me to imagine living during a time when one's religion was under attack and you were forced to convert under pain of death. Yet, that is the situation that Mattathias and his sons are in. Although that is not the world in which I live, I find the methods to seduce Mattathias alive and well. The officer of the king gives several reasons why Mattathias should submit. First, everyone else is doing it. Everyone in Judah and Jerusalem has converted. Secondly, you will be somebody. Even though you are a great man in this city, others do not know you. However, if you submit to the king, you will become one of his friends. Finally, the king will make it worth your while. He will enrich you with silver, gold, and many gifts. Has this method of the Evil One really changed over the centuries? The world appeals to our desire to be liked, our desire for prestige, and our desire for material wealth. You can have all of these things, if you will just sell your soul to the Devil.|People respond differently to this appeal. Some submit. Their faith, if they have any, is dispensable when "improvement" of life in this world is on the line. Others resist. Some resist by simply refusing to go along and willingly giving up their lives for their faith. Their resistance is non-violent, even if it is not passive. Finally, others, like Mattathias and his sons, resist with force of arms. Both types of resistance have had a place in Jewish-Christian history. Both have one thing in common: you have to be prepared to lose or give up everything for your faith. Mattathias left all of his possessions in the city. He gave up everything, except his religious customs and faith. He valued nothing above his faith in God.|The psalmist reminds the worshiper that God is the ruler over all the earth. He rules from the rising of the sun to its setting. Dictators come and go but God, who is perfect in beauty, shines forth. He is the perfect judge. He gathers before him those who are faithful. He rescues them when they call upon him in their distress. So, fear not the threats of the evil ones but offer praise to God and fulfill your vows to him. He knows how to care for his children.|The Gospel reading focuses on recognizing that God is at work in your midst. Jesus came into the midst of God's people and they did not see God visiting them in Jesus. If they only saw Jesus for who he truly was, they would have peace. But they do not, and this leads to disaster. Jesus wept.|These readings call us to trust in God, ask for the wisdom necessary to see that God is truly at work in our lives, and to resist evil. The world throws the possibility of friendship, fame, and wealth at us. But this is all an illusion. Only God remains faithful to us.|If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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