The two books of the Maccabees tell the story of Jews who were faithful to their religion in spite of persecution by the government under which they lived. In today’s reading we witness an example of incredible faith. Mattathias abandoned everything so that he might have the freedom to worship God. Those of us who take our freedom for granted might find it difficult to imagine abandoning everything we have if our faith was in danger.
The story in these two books is more profound than it may seem on the surface. The author tries to persuade us of the incredible riches that are inherent in knowing God: not simply knowing about God, but knowing Him on a personal level as a friend. There are many factors that can inhibit religious freedom and prevent us from knowing God. To acquire the riches of the kingdom, we might consider giving up not necessarily our possessions, but such things as our addiction to sinful patterns, or our failure to forgive, or perhaps our ingratitude, or our unwillingness to serve God.
As Our Lord weeps over the city of Jerusalem, he anguishes over the people’s failure to be open to the message of salvation, his message of freedom. The message of salvation, revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments, encompasses God’s incredible love for each of us. Knowing this love gives us confidence and joy because through it we come to know God. And so, if we truly loved God we could abandon and let go of anything material or immaterial that stands in the way of our freedom to worship and serve him. May we use and respect the things of this world, realising that they are but temporary and will, one day, have to be abandoned.