Homilette for Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(I Maccabees 1:10-15.41-43.54-57.62-63; Luke 18:35-43)

Many see God’s scrambling the speech of the builders of the Tower of Babel as a punishment. Perhaps they are right, but it was also as an act of mercy. The men who constructed such an edifice in the vane hope of forcing a meeting with God could only have killed themselves if they continued. It was better that God garbled their speech so that they could no longer work together.

But humans can be slow learners. In the first reading today from Maccabees the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes wants all people in his kingdom, which includes Palestine, to assimilate Greek customs. Their children are to attend Greek schools, speak the Greek language, and adopt Greek culture. Any faithful Jew is abhorred by this prospect because he or she recognizes that God has called the Jewish people to stand apart. They are to shine as a beacon of righteousness for the world to emulate. God, we might say, revels in a multiplicity of cultures.

The Church today recognizes the imperative of preserving many cultures. Although she seeks world unity in everyone recognizing Jesus as Lord, she nevertheless promotes cultural differences. She sees the various artistic expressions, racial features, and even languages as if it were a symphony of instruments coming together to praise the Creator.