Terrible affliction was upon Israel. That’s what we’re told in today’s first reading. Why? Well, because they forgot they had a God who could take care of them. Because they were afflicted by the foreign occupation, they thought the best way to overcome that was by making alliance with their persecutors rather than remembering that God was faithful and would save them.
Look at what they did. They introduced the way of living of the Gentiles. In days gone by, they would have thought such a thing completely repulsive. They became atheists in a sense: they rejected God completely. The gymnasium they erected wasn’t for sport, it was for learning. In those days a gymnasium was a kind of school that taught a complete way of life, one very different from the one God had laid out for them. They covered over the mark of their circumcision. The sign that they belonged to God was essentially blotted out so that they would know longer be known as God’s people. Then the evil Antiochus Epiphanes made the transformation complete by giving the Temple over to the worship of pagan gods. Israel’s crisis of faith caused them to reject the God who had loved them into creation.
The point is, when life starts oppressing us and everything seems like it is going wrong, there are two choices for people of faith. One is the way Israel went under Antiochus Epiphanes. The other is the way of the blind beggar in today’s Gospel who humbly cried out: “Son of David, have pity on me” and “Lord, please let me see.” Please God let us all be able to see the big picture, the triumph of our God over the foe, the relief our hearts have longed for.
The lament of the Psalmist today is the way the disciple chooses: “Indignation seizes me because of the wicked who forsake your law. Though the snares of the wicked are twined about me, your law I have not forgotten.”