Joy and Misery
The Books of Maccabees are fraught with violence, rebellion, abhorrence and fear. We may be surprised to find that joy threads its way through these stories. As we examine the tales of the Maccabees family, let us consider how our own families are caught up in global and local affairs . . . and how miserable circumstances may well be hiding glimmers of joy . . . if we might only look. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in times of misery.
The opening verses of this story are simple and straightforward; yet they tell a complex story of warring tribes that fill a civil void to wreak havoc on the people.
Verses 1:1-9: This history begins when Alexander the Great, son of Philip of Macedonia, marched from Macedonia and attacked Darius, king of Persia and Media. Alexander enlarged the Greek Empire by defeating Darius and seizing his throne. He fought many battles, captured fortified cities, and put the kings of the region to death. As he advanced to the ends of the earth, he plundered many nations; and when he had conquered the world, he became proud and arrogant by building up a strong army, he dominated whole nations and their rulers, and forced everyone to pay him taxes. When Alexander had been emperor for twelve years, he fell ill and realized that he was about to die. He called together his generals, noblemen who had been brought up with him since his early childhood, and he divided his empire, giving a part to each of them. After his death, the generals took control, and each had himself crowned king of his own territory. The descendants of these kings ruled for many generations and brought a great deal of misery on the world.
This is a story that is as old as time; yet it is also fresh as it announces events we witness daily.
Verses 1:34-40: They brought in a group of traitorous Jews and installed them there. They also brought in arms and supplies and stored in the fort all the loot that they had taken in Jerusalem. This fort became a great threat to the city. The fort was a threat to the Temple, a constant, evil menace for Israel. Innocent people were murdered around the altar; the Holy Place was defiled by murderers. The people of Jerusalem fled in fear, and the city became a colony of foreigners. Jerusalem was foreign to its own people, who had been forced to abandon the city. Her Temple was as empty as a wilderness; her festivals were turned into days of mourning, her Sabbath joy into shame. Her honor became an object of ridicule. Her shame was as great as her former glory, and her pride was turned into deepest mourning.
This is a story that is as old as humanity; yet it is one that offers an opportunity to find joy even in the midst of violence and abuse. This is a story that repeats itself too often; yet it is a tale that begs for change in stony hearts.
Let us pause to consider how we might break the cycle of violence and misery that seizes the world all too easily. And let us call one another to a new dedication of ourselves to God.
For more Noontime reflections about this tumultuous time, enter the word Maccabees into the blog search bar and explore.
For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/