Maccabees 1.10-15,41-43,54-57,62-64; Psalm 118; Luke 18.35-43
The two books of the Maccabees, which are not included in the Jewish Canon of scripture, are a bit of a jumble. Nevertheless they do help us understand Jewish life in the years just before the birth of Christ, as well as clarifying the position of the Jewish nation in the 2nd Century BC.
Judaea was then part of the Seleucid Empire (one of the empires into which Alexander the Great’s Macedonian Empire had been divided upon his death). The Maccabees were a group of rebel Jewish warriors who took control of Judaea and who both expanded the borders of Judaea and counteracted the influence of Hellenistic Judaism (that is to say, the syncretistic Judaism of those who admired and assimilated themselves to Greek cultural practices; as our reading puts it, ‘they disguised their circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant, submitting to the heathen rule as willing slaves of impiety.’)
Today’s reading describes the edict given by the King that his whole kingdom was to become ‘a single people’. ‘Yet there were many in Isael who stood firm and found the courage to refuse unclean food.’ We may like to meditate on our own response to the demands of the culture in which we live.