Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we are all presented with the accounts of the persecution of the faithful Jews, the descendant of the Israelites at the time of the Greek Seleucid rule in Judea which caused the spark of the Maccabean Revolt, and then in the Gospel passage we heard of the moment when the Lord Jesus healed a blind man whose sight He restored, showing the blind man mercy and compassion, the love of God.
In our first reading today from the first Book of the Maccabees, we heard of the moment when the new King of the Seleucid Empire, one of the several successor kingdoms of Alexander the Great’s Empire, rose to power as Antiochus IV Epiphanes and wanting to impose the Greek customs and ways, traditions and practices on the Jewish people living in Judea, Galilee and in the other parts of his Empire. This is the main cause of the great Maccabean Revolt detailed in the Book of the Maccabees.
Historically, the Jews, who are the descendants of the Israelites living in Judah and others, had been left to practice their faith and traditions without hindrance by the Persians, who emancipated them from the exile in Babylon, and allowed them to return to their homeland to live in accordance with their laws and customs as long as they recognised the Persian King as their Sovereign. Such practice was continued mostly unchanged by Alexander the Great, the King of Macedon when he conquered the Persian Empire.
While the Hellenic influence gradually established itself among many of the Jews, the kings who succeeded Alexander’s divided kingdoms usually left the locals, including the Jews alone. However, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, known to history for his pride, arrogance and megalomania, was determined to change his whole Empire to suit his own purpose and desires. He forced his subjects to adopt the Greek way of life, religious beliefs, practices and traditions, forcing them to abandon their own distinctive ways of life.
This imposition of the pagan ways and beliefs on the Jews then resulted in the rise of the Maccabeans as the leaders of the revolt against the Greeks. They led the people in their opposition to the sufferings that the faithful people of God had suffered for remaining faithful to the Lord and to His Law. Through them, God eventually delivered His people from their sufferings, and restored their faith and practices to them as they gained independence from the Greek kings.
In our Gospel passage today, the Lord healed the eyes of a blind man and made him to be able to see again. He showed His love and compassion for the suffering blind man, and answered his plea, as the blind man begged to be healed, knowing that the Lord could heal him. His example showed us all that God always cares for us and protects us whenever He can, and we must not doubt His love and kindness, which He had once shown on His people at the time of the Maccabean Revolt.
As we listened in the Gospel today, the Lord told the blind man that his faith had saved him. He believed that the Lord could heal him and thus he was healed. His faith, just as the faith of the faithful living during the time of the Maccabean Revolt should inspire us, in how they remain true and faithful to the Lord despite the challenges and trials they had to face. Are we able to have the same faith and dedication as they had shown the Lord and all of us? Are we also willing to make that commitment if we have not done so, brothers and sisters in Christ?
Today, being the feast of St. Albert the Great, we have yet another good example that we should follow in our lives in being faithful to God at all times. St. Albert the Great was a great Dominican friar and bishop who was one of the most famous and brilliant theologian of all time. He was remembered for his many marvellous books and treatises, all works on various areas of theology. St. Albert the Great dedicated his whole life to the service of God and to the advancement of theological studies and teaching.
As a member of the Dominican Order and the Bishop of Regensburg in what is today southern Germany, he also dedicated himself to his responsibilities and worked hard to glorify God and to serve those who have been entrusted to him as shepherd and as a member of his Dominican Order community. In this case, we can see from the holiness and faith that this great saint had, how each and every one of us can also contribute our time and effort, in believing God and in loving Him, just as St. Albert the Great and our predecessors had done.
Let us all discern these and see in what way we can dedicate ourselves to the Lord better, to be better Christians from now on. Let us also not be discouraged by persecution, oppression, trials and challenges we may face in life in being faithful to God, but remain firm in our adherence to our faith in Him, always. May God be with us all and may He bless us all in our every efforts and good works for His greater glory. Amen.