Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63
The first reading for this day, a shocking portrayal of what was happening to the people of Israel from the Book of Maccabees, ends with the sobering words, "Terrible affliction was upon Israel." This affliction, of course, came from the compliance of God’s chosen people who were forgetting who they were and what their covenant with the Lord meant in the life and faith of the nation. In plain terms, the people were conforming to the cultural and social expectations of the dominant Greek culture. As a result of this corporate forgetfulness the people were not only losing their identity, but were also losing their way, no longer following the path laid out for them by the Lord.
This reality of being overwhelmed, indeed seduced, by the popular culture is not something unknown to us today. It seems as if the expectations of our society today, marked by materialism and narcissism; also dominate the lives of many of our Christian men and women even now. It is a constant reflection shared with me weekend after weekend by good men and women who come here to Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center that the values and mores that were so important in their own faith formation appears to be missing in the lives of their children. They worry about whether or not their beloved children will come to know the Lord in their lives in the same way that they have been blessed to have experienced for so long and in so many beautiful ways. It is a valid concern and a very real fear that merits careful reflection. In many ways we have capitulated to Hollywood’s mockery of what we in our Christian faith, consider to be so very sacred. Kim Kardashian included, even as the so-called news networks add to the contemporary mockery of the sacred union true marriage is meant to be!
It was the blind man in the Gospel – as it turns out hardly blind at all! – who knew that he had to call out to the Lord if he was to have any hope of seeing ever again. "Lord, please let me see!" That is my prayer that I must pray fervently along with our heroic blind brother, "Lord, please let us see! Don’t let us be blinded by the darkness that surrounds us!"
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.