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Liturgical day: Thursday 33rd in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (1Macc 2:15-29): The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices. Many of Israel joined them, but Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart. Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias: «You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city, supported by sons and kin. Come now, be the first to obey the king's command, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those who are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King's Friends, and shall be enriched with silver and gold and many gifts». But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: «Although all the Gentiles in the king's realm obey him, so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king's orders, yet I and my sons and my kin will keep to the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree».

As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king's order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu. Then Mattathias went through the city shouting, «Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow after me!». Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons, leaving behind in the city all their possessions. Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom went out into the desert to settle there.
Responsorial Psalm: 49
R/. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
God the Lord has spoken and summoned the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.

«Gather my faithful ones before me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice». And the heavens proclaim his justice; for God himself is the judge.

«Offer to God praise as your sacrifice and fulfill your vows to the Most High; then call upon me in time of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me».
Verscicle before the Gospel (Ps 94:8): Alleluia. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Lk 19,41-44): When Jesus had come in sight of the city, He wept over it and said, ‘If only today you knew the ways of peace! But now your eyes are held from seeing. Yet days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with barricades and shut you in and press on you from every side. And they will dash you to the ground and your children with you, and leave not a stone within you, for you did not recognize the time and the visitation of your God».

«If only today you knew the ways of peace!»

Fr. Blas RUIZ i López
(Ascó, Tarragona, Spain)

Today, the image presented by the Gospel is that of Jesus «who wept over» (Lk 19:41) for the fate of the chosen city that did not recognize the time and visitation of its Savior. Knowing, as we do, the latest news about this city, it would be easy to apply this lamentation to the city which —is both— holy and a source of separation.

However, looking at it further beyond, we may identify that Jerusalem with the new chosen people, which is the Church, and —additionally— with the world where this Church must carry out its mission. If we proceed like that, we shall find a community that, having achieved the highest summits in the field of technology and science, groans and weeps over the fact it lives surrounded by the selfishness of its members, because it has erected around it a wall of violence and moral disorder, and because it hurls its sons all over, dragging them with the chains of a dehumanizing individualism. In short, what we shall find is people that did not know how to recognize the God visiting them (cf. Lk 19:44).

However, we Christians cannot just be stuck with our mourning, nor can we be misfortune foretellers, but rather, men of hope. We know the end of the story, we know Christ has tumbled down the walls and broken the chains: the tears He is shedding in this Gospel anticipate the blood, which He has saved us with.

In fact, Jesus is present in his Church, especially through those who are more needy. We must assume his presence to understand Christ's tenderness towards us. St. Ambrose tells us that His love is so transcendental, that He has made himself small and humble so that we can be great; He has accepted to be diapered like a new born baby, so that we can be liberated of the chains of sin; He has accepted to be nailed to the Cross so that we can appear amongst the stars of Heaven... This is why, we must thank God and discover amid us He who visits and redeems us.