Thursday, November 19, 2009

War and Peace

The first reading and the Gospel for today's Mass as Ordinary Time winds down are both about war. 1st Maccabees gives us the Jewish equivalent of the "shot heard 'round the world" as the patriarch Mattathias makes the first move against an oppressive regime. The Gospel is more somber. Jesus prophesies a dreadful defeat, describing the siege of Jerusalem with such terrible accuracy that some scholars are convinced that the Gospel of Luke "had to" have been written after the fact.

Perhaps both moments hinge on what Jesus called "recognizing the time of visitation." For Mattathias, that visitation was inscribed in the covenant. To betray the covenant, as the king's officers were enjoining him to do, would be tantamount to denying God's ever-present fidelity. Mattathias and those "who were zealous for the Law" took refuge in the mountains, "leaving all their possessions behind in the city." From now on, the Lord would be their only possession.

Of course, the ultimate "visitation" of God's fidelity is Jesus himself, the same Jesus who will come again in a final visitation, after which "God will be all in all."

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