Posts Tagged ‘going against the crowd’

2 Maccabees 4: Hellenization

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Girl Friends

The definition of Hellenization in conjunction with scripture refers to the time when the Jewish people were lured into imitating the Greeks who placed much importance on transacting business in the gymnasium.  When Jews entered this place were nudity was the norm, circumcision suddenly took on new meaning.  This outward sign of fidelity to Yahweh sometimes became a stumbling block to transacting business and some Jewish men went to the extreme of enduring a painful surgical reversal of this mark of Abraham in order to hide this mark from others.  The important point for us today is this: how do we allow ourselves to become Hellenized?  What small places in our lives that have been places of constancy to God become inconvenient?  What small steps entice us to give up God in small ways?  What small detours become major deviations from the truth?

Not long ago I asked some of the girls we teach what they do when they feel embarrassed by “doing what is right” when they are with friends rather than going along with the crowd?  They looked at me in an odd way and then said: “Those people would not be my friends”.  How simple.  How true.

In today’s reading we read about laws put in force and also abolished.  We read about intrigue and sedition, the lure of power and money, about violence and deceit.  This is a bloody time in Jewish history which we have visited often.  We usually come away with the same truth: When we find ourselves embroiled in schemes and complex schemes . . . the only way out is to revert to simple truths that bring true satisfaction and joy.  We remember that we find our power in our willingness to empty self and listen for God’s voice.  We recall that we find our strength in our eagerness to put aside any personal agenda so that we might listen for God’s agenda.  When we reflect and turn to God in this way, the tension, the anxiety, and the pain that had been paralyzing us begin to melt away.

When we have a sense that we have entered into our own Hellenization, it is time to assess and re-evaluate.  When the world intrudes and asks us to forfeit our intimacy with God, we know for certain that these will be the first small steps away from God rather than steps toward God.  When this happens, we know what we must do . . . and we remember the simple statement: Those people would not be my friends.

A re-post from February 27, 2012.

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