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DO WE SEE WITH FAITH?

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

1 Macc. 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64 & LK. 18:35-43

The Books of Maccabees deal with a clash of cultures between Jews and Gentiles about 175 years before Christ. They describe how the Jewish people overcame a devastating persecution, and regained the right to worship God and live out their covenant with Him.

When Antiochus IV Epiphanes took over the reins of the Kingdom of Syria he aggressively promoted Greek culture and religion, plundering the Temple of Jerusalem and erecting an altar to the Greek god Zeus in its sanctuary. As the conflict worsened, Jews were forced – under pain of death – to pay homage to Zeus, to eat unclean foods and even to renounce Yahweh as their God.

Ultimately, the persecution sparked a revolt led by a priest named Mattathias and his sons, known as the Maccabees. The books in the Bible that bear this family’s name detail this uprising, which ultimately led to the restoration of the Temple and religious freedom for the Jews.

Throughout history, God’s people have been subject to one form of persecution or another. Whether it is open aggression or the more subtle opposition of a culture of death, these persecutions reveal a clash between the kingdom of God and the realm of darkness.

The witness of Scripture and history shows us that the kingdom of God is the only one that will last. God will always remain in control. He will never abandon those who stay faithful to Him. It gives us an opportunity today to pray for everyone suffering persecution. May they realize that if they are on God’s side they will never fail. May they know the comfort and courage of the Lord.

How many times in life have we felt like this blind beggar in today's Gospel, sitting by the roadside alone, down-and-out and hard on luck – physically, spiritually or emotionally? Despite witnessing our distress some people simply walk by without a care. Others dare not to look at us. Some may even scold us, like the people in the Gospel telling the beggar to be silent.

Just as he could not give himself what he most desired - sight - we are unable to give ourselves what we most need - faith and wisdom to view all things as God sees them. Do I regularly ask for an increase of faith and wisdom? Am I aware of how much I need a strong faith?

The book of Job tells us that “human beings have a hard service on Earth” (Job 7:1). It should not be surprising then, when in our lives as Christians, we take some real blows and even some falls. But God does not want us to become discouraged. He wants us to see these as opportunities to turn to Him, the source of the strength and help we need. Other voices will tell us to be quiet, 'After all, you just need to work things out', and not to bother the Master. We must be aware that Jesus constantly passes by, the only One who can bring me the peace for which my heart desires and longs. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” Jesus promises us that He will listen to our request, just as He did to the blind man. But what should our request be?

Often what we really need is not what we ask for in prayer. We need the vision that only the supernatural virtue of faith can give. We need the ability to see everything from God’s vantage point and to see how the difficulties and trials we experience are part of a bigger picture. We need to have the firm assurance of the final victory of the Lamb, Jesus, and the strength to persevere in fidelity. Lord, please let me see….Please increase my faith and wisdom.

Lord Jesus, allow us to praise and glorify You for Your constant companionship, for never leaving us alone in our struggles and trials. Increase our faith so that we will be able to experience Your love even amidst difficulty and trials.

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