1 Mc 4:36-37, 52-59 / Lk 19:45-48
Today we get a happy ending to the dreadful story we’ve been hearing all week, starting with the Greeks’ brutal imposition of their culture upon the Jews, the revolt that followed, and finally the triumph of the Maccabees in expelling the Greeks and restoring the temple and its worship.
It is a happy ending for awhile, but students of history know that it was neither the first nor the last “ending.” There had been happy endings before, when David first seized Jerusalem from the pagans and when his son Solomon had built the first great temple. And then there was the time when the Israelites came back from captivity in Babylon in the sixth century and rebuilt the temple which had been burned to the ground. And long after the Maccabees’ triumph in the second century before Christ, the temple would need to be rebuilt and rededicated yet again by King Herod during Jesus’ childhood — awaiting its final destruction in 70 A.D.
In this life, sad or happy endings are rarely endings, but only moments on the road. There’s always another chapter in the story. And that points to the issue we need to focus on today. The journey we’re on is a very long one, with many twists and turns, and inevitably with moments when we lose our focus and lose connection with the Lord. It can happen at any time or stage in our journey, whether we’re young or old. The temple got rebuilt and rededicated so many times precisely because this was true about the Israelites, as it is true about us. That’s reality.
We can face that reality by engaging each new day with open and listening hearts, that are able to hear the Lord speaking to us when we’re wandering into dark places. We can face that reality by making prudent course changes — early and often. And each time, God will help us.