Today we begin the reading of an history of the Maccabean Revolt ( 1 & 2 Maccabees) which took place between the years 167-160 BC. The story says the year 137 but remember, we measure years around the birth of Christ (BC and AD).
Growing up this story was not in my King James Bible. But why would a king include in the Bible a story which says people have the right to overthrow the king when their religious liberty is being trampled? No king wants their children growing up reading this story. We on the other hand have always considered it part of the inspired Word of God.
The Empire of Alexander the Great was breaking up. What we call the Holy Land fell under Seleucus I, founder of what is called the Seleucid Empire. In 187 Antiochus Epiphanies came to the throne. As our story begins the King decided that all should be one, what sounds like a laudable goal.
Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,
each abandoning his particular customs.
All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king,
and many children of Israel were in favor of his religion;
they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.
We may ask ourselves how the Jews could abandon their faith. They did it the same way we do, little by little.
As Christians we are called to be in the world but not of the world. St. Paul warns us,
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rm 12:2)
This week as we read the story of how a small band of the faithful had to fight to recover their faith. Let us take time to look at our own lives and ask are there ways in which we have allowed ourselves to become shaped by the culture instead of being the ones to shape it.