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Archive for December 26th, 2018


1 Maccabees 11Alliance and War

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Jonathan Maccabeus

Ptolemy VI, Demetrius, Alexander and Trypho – we watch these rulers exchange lies as easily as they shake hands.  Nothing and no one stand for what they say they do; the world into which we step with this Noontime is one of deceit and triple-speak.  It is a world that may seem familiar to us.

In this portion of the Maccabees story, Jonathan knows that his tiny kingdom is a simple pawn in the chessboard of the region yet he persists in his struggle to retain and hold secure the sacred city of Jerusalem and some districts of the former kingdom.  He seems to achieve and hold his goal . . . at least for a while.

Alliance and war, promise and conflict, peace and confrontation – these larger battles are reflections of the personal battles we wage each day.  The Euro-zone struggles, personal freedom is or is not guaranteed in Egypt, the debt crisis in the U.S. causes financial markets to totter; corruption in political and financial arenas is blamed for personal, national and global failure and depression.  News headlines today read much like this Maccabees accounting.  What has changed?

We like to think that humanity makes progress and our inventions might give us the impression that we do.  We communicate with one another across the globe in an instant; but do we hear one another any better?  We cure diseases that previously devastated entire nations; but do we cure the disease of greed and alienation?  We have world-wide conferences that give the appearance of ecumenism and openness; but do we tend to the soul any better than we did two thousand years ago?

Amid the hurley burley of human activity there is only one place to go when headlines distress us or when family and friends become prickly or insensitive.  The last verse of the chapter tells us where to go and what to do . . . Then Jonathan returned to Jerusalem. High Priest-Warrior who follows in the footsteps of his slain brother Judas, Jonathan makes it clear where his center lies . . . he returns to Jerusalem.  Steadfast diplomat who manages to maneuver the tricks and fall backs of his opponents, Jonathan refuses shady deals and shaky terms to make clear where he focuses his energy . . . he returns to Jerusalem Through alliance and war, despite political setback and personal failure, Jonathan Maccabeus shoots like an arrow straight and true.  He homes toward the epicenter of his faith and hope . . . he returns to Jerusalem. 

And so we pray . . .

Good and faithful God, abide with us as we worry our way through our days.  Keep us true to you as we avoid the temptation to give in to a false and passing alliance that brings nothing but death.  Teach us how to remain in touch with you when the clamor of the day and the fear of the night dull our senses and attacks our resolve.  Speak to us loudly and clearly when the road signs that point toward you have been washed away by slick talk and deceitful hands.  Pull us to you and hold us close when our inner turmoil and fear erode our confidence and hope. Keep us ever mindful of your care and love . . . and remind us that when the stricture of alliance clouds our vision or when the fog of war numbs our good judgment . . . we have only to cry out to you and ask that you return us to the safety of Jerusalem.  For it is there that we find eternal rest and boundless peace in you.  Amen. 


A re-post from November 23, 2011.

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Apphus

For more information on Jonathan Maccabeus you might try these sites:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/353845/Jonathan-Maccabeus

 http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-hasmoneans/

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