Today’s first reading in the Office of the Readings really resonates with being an American Catholic these days especially with all of the attacks by the current Administration on Christian religious freedom, particularly towards the Catholic Church.
After Alexander the Macedonian, Philip’s son, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius, king of the Persians and Medes, he became king in his place, having first ruled in Greece. He fought many campaigns, captured fortresses, and put kings to death. He advanced to the ends of the earth, gathering plunder from many nations; the earth fell silent before him, and his heart became proud and arrogant. He collected a very strong army and conquered provinces, nations, and rulers, and they became his tributaries. But after all this he took to his bed, realizing that he was going to die. He therefore summoned his officers, the nobles, who had been brought up with him from his youth, to divide his kingdom among them while he was still alive. Alexander had reigned twelve years when he died.
So his officers took over his kingdom, each in his own territory, and after his death they all put on royal crowns and so did their sons after them for many years, causing much distress over the earth.
There sprang from these a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus, once a hostage at Rome. He became king in the year one hundred and thirty-seven of the kingdom of the Greeks.
In those days there appeared in Israel men who were breakers of the law, and they seduced many people, saying: “Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us; since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us.” The proposal was agreeable; some from among the people promptly went to the king, and be authorized them to introduce the way of living of the Gentiles. Thereupon they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem according to the Gentile custom. They covered over the mark of their circumcision and abandoned the holy covenant; they allied themselves with the Gentiles and sold themselves to wrongdoing.
When his kingdom seemed secure, Antiochus proposed to become king of Egypt, so as to rule over both kingdoms. He invaded Egypt with a strong force, with chariots and elephants, and with a large fleet, to make war on Ptolemy, king of Egypt. Ptolemy was frightened at his presence and fled, leaving many casualties. The fortified cities in the land of Egypt were captured, and Antiochus plundered the land of Egypt.
After Antiochus had defeated Egypt in the year one hundred and forty-three, he returned and went up to Israel and to Jerusalem with a strong force. He insolently invaded the sanctuary and took away the golden altar, the lampstand for the light with all its fixtures, and the offering table, the cups and the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the golden ornament on the facade of the temple. He stripped off everything, and tool away the gold and silver and the precious vessels; he also took all the hidden treasures he could find. Taking all this, he went back to his own country, after he had spoken with great arrogance and shed much blood.
1 Maccabees 1:1-24
The last part is very much like the desecration of our religious freedoms. Obama and the HHS have come in and told us that we must violate our consciences by providing “preventative care” such as contraceptives and abortifacients. People for the LGBTQIAP are demanding that a New York town clerk lose her job for not signing a gay “marriage” certificate and delegating that job to her deputy. They aren’t satisfied until this woman either desecrates her conscience or loses her job.
Perhaps even worse are the Christians who go along with this, even help the desecration take place. Christians who ally themselves with the enemy to make their lives seemingly easier. We are facing today very similar problems as a Church as the Macabbean era Jews experienced.
We need to offer up our prayers, first for those within our own ranks who are betraying Jesus Christ and the truth. We must pray for their total conversion and repentance. Second, we must pray for the enemies of the Church, those who seek to destroy our worship of God by attempting to force us to violate the precepts of God. Third, we must pray for ourselves as individuals, that we have the grace of fortitude so that if the enemies of the Church persist, we would not be lead to forsake our holy religion, but that we would be willing to lose our jobs, lose all of our rights, lose our very lives in order to remain in the truth and love of God.