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Archive for September 15th, 2016


1 Maccabees 15Scoundrels

A shekel minted in 111-110 BCE

A shekel minted in 111-110 BCE

 Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Favorite from September 10, 2009.

The players: Scoundrels, ethnarchs, mercenaries, troops, high priests, kings, consuls, the people.

The locations: Sampsames, Delos, Myndos, Sparta, Rome, Cyprus, Joppa, Gazara.

The stakes: Taxes, coinage, control, weapons, debts, honor, the temple, the citadel, a gold shield weighing a thousand minas (a unit of money worth 60 shekels).

The motivations: Saving harmless, seeking haven, granting pardon, exacting revenge, survival, domination.

These are elements of today’s reading which took place just prior to the birth of Christ.  We can unplug these names of ancient people and places to replace contemporary ones and yet the stakes and motivations have not changed in the millennia that have passed; human beings are, after all, creatures who struggle to survive and to maintain equilibrium and comfort levels.  We never want to be off-balance or surprised.  We want to be in control of our surroundings.  We want to think that we have perfect understanding and skill in all we think, do and say.  When this equilibrium is upset, we become anxious; and this anxiety leads to fear . . . which has the potential to send us into devolution rather than evolution.

When mercenaries enter our lives we come undone in the sense that we begin to look for ways to solve our new and crushing problems from our own skill sets.  In our urgency we forget to go to God and when this happens and our lives take on the characteristics we see in the activity we read about today.

When scoundrels enter our lives they are so clever at hiding their manipulations that we begin to blame ourselves for all that seems wrong.  In our confusion we forget that the one true measuring stick is Christ.  When we doubt ourselves, we need only look to this word of God as a model.

When taxes or control or debt or temples or citadels become our idols we fail ourselves and we allow these temporal entities to separate us from God.

When saving ourselves at all costs becomes our chief motivator we have lost our identity, for as children of God we need only have concern for our spiritual health.  Once we tend to the life of our spirit, all else falls into place.

Let us be on the lookout for the scoundrels in our lives and when they appear, let us turn to the one true source that never fails us – the source that created us, sustains, protects and guides us.  Let us turn to our God for only this one has the stamina, the capacity and the will to endure for eternity.  All else vanishes into dust.

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