Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
(I Maccabees 4:36-37.52-59, Lucas 19:45-48)
Although the Books of Maccabees do not have a place in the Jewish Bible, they contain some of the greatest testimony to the Law and the Temple. Today’s passage from the First Book of the Maccabees relates the founding event of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.
In the reading Mattathias Maccabeus’ son Judas declares an annual celebration for the Jews. He has just led a successful uprising against the foreign rulers. With the war exacting its terrible price the whole nation has learned the value of religious freedom.
Although the situation is not really comparable today, the bishops of the United States are concerned about religious freedom. They regard some government rules regulating medical care as conflicting with traditional Catholic morals. They rightfully will not allow Catholic hospitals to perform abortions or sterilizations. And they cannot justify supplying medical insurance that subsidizes contraceptive services. Hopefully the Church will not have to close its hospitals or stop purchasing insurance for employees. Yet that is one alternative in its ongoing dispute with the federal government.