Semi-Double Observance of the Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
Missa "Omnia, quæ fecisti nobis"
The lessons in the divine office during the whole month of October, are often taken from the books of Machabees. Thus, let us strive to make the following thoughts our own, acknowledging that our misfortunes have been brought about by our unfaithfulness in following the divine will (Introit). Let us pray God to cease chastising us, to pardon and heal us (Gospel), that His Church may serve Him in peace (Collect). Then full of hope in the help of the most High and of faith in Christ, let us "be filled with the Holy Spirit", Who, in this time after Pentecost, should be constantly in our minds and, "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us sing psalms in our churches to the glory of God, who has freed us from the bondage of death and who, in the evil days at the end of the world (Epistle), will deliver all those who have faith in Him.
After the Babylonian captivity God's people returned to Jerusalem where they rebuilt the Temple. Incidentally, it was at this time that today's Offertory psalm was composed. But soon they were once more punished because of renewed unfaithfulness. On this occasion Antiochus Epiphanes took Jerusalem and pillaged the Temple; afterwards publishing an edict everywhere forbidding the practice of the Jewish faith. Idolatrous altars were raised in every place, and the number of apostates became so great that it seemed as if the faith of Abraham, Israel and Moses must disappear.
Then God raised up some heroes. A priest named Mathathias rallied all who were still filled with zeal for the Law and the worship of the Covenant and named his son Judas Machabeus as leader of the force which he had raised to champion the rights of the true God; and with his tiny army Judas gladly fought the battles of Israel. In war he was "like a lion and like a lion's welp roaring for his prey". He wiped out "the wicked" and routed Antiochus' great army and re-established the true worship at Jerusalem. Filled with the Spirit of God, the Machabees had reconquered their country and saved the soul of their people.
"The sacrilegious superstitions of the Gentile world," says St. Augustine, "had filled the temple with defilement; but is was cleansed from all these profanations of idolatry by that most valiant captain Judas Machabeus, the conqueror of the generals of Antiochus" (Second Sunday in October, second Nocturn).
Again, St. Ambrose comments: "Some men have been captivated by the glory of arms, and rate courage in warfare above all else. But not of this kind was the valour of Josue, who, in a single battle, took six kings prisoners. With three hundred men Gedeon triumphed over a powerful army. Jonathas, while still a boy, distinguished himself by some fine feats of arms.
And what shall we say of the Machabees? With three thousand Jews they conquered forty-eight thousand Syrians! We can form some idea of the mettle of a captain like Judas Machabeus, from the action of one of his soldiers. This man, Eleazar, having noticed an elephant taller than the rest and covered with the royal body-cloth, concluding that it was being ridden by the king himself, ran with all his might into the midst of the hostile legion and throwing away his shield, slew right and left with both hands until he reached the elephant, underneath which he crept and pierced it with his sword. The animal fell and Eleazar perished under its weight. Smothered rather than crushed, he was buried in triumph" (First Sunday of October, second Nocturn).
With a view to tracing a parallel between the breviary and the missal in today's liturgy we may observe that in the same way that the Machabees, who were soldiers, approached almighty God successfully to make sure that their race should not perish, but that it should keep its religion and faith in the Messias unimpaired, so in the Gospel an officer of the imperial army comes to Christ to save his son's life, and when the miracle for which he asked takes place, he believes in our Lord with his whole house.
Next, we notice that the Machabees, in opposition to the foolish men around them sought light and strength from God Himself that they might know His will in difficult circumstances, and having their prayer answered in the name of Christ Who was to be born of their race, straightway gave thanks in the Temple, "blessing the Lord with hymns and praises". In the same way in the Epistle, St. Paul speaks of wise "men who in" evil days "seek to know God's will, and being risen from the dead (cf. V, 14 of the same chapter), by the mercy of the most High, give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, singing "hymns and spiritual canticles, making melody in their hearts to the Lord."
Further, all the chants of the Mass express sentiments entirely similar to those of the Machabees. "Lord," says the fifth response in the breviary, "our eyes are turned towards Thee, lest we perish." In the Gradual we say: "The eyes of all hope in Thee, O Lord." And the psalm adds: "He will do the will of them that fear Him... He will hear their prayer and save them... but all the wicked will He destroy." " O God," declares the Alleluia, "I will sing and give praise to Thee my glory", and the psalm ends with the words: "Through God we shall do mightily: and He will bring our enemies to nothing."
The Offertory is a hymn of thanksgiving after the deliverance from the captivity of Babylon and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple, the same Temple that was restored under the Machabees. The Communion psalm, which also supplies the verse at the Introit, shows how God blesses those who serve Him and comes to their assistance in all their troubles. Finally, the Introit, after acknowledging that the chastisements which have weighed heavily on the Chosen People are due to their own unfaithfulness, prays God to glorify His name by dealing with His own people " according to the multitude of His mercy."
We want to thank the Friends of Our Lady of Fatima for expediting these resources of the Propers. Sources: Saint Andrew Daily Missal , 1945
Missa "Omnia, quæ fecisti nobis"
Go to the ORDINARY OF THE HOLY MASS THE MASS OF THE CATECHUMENS
INTROIT: Eccles. 38: 18