33rd Week, Friday, Nov 24; St Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions

 33rd Week, Friday, Nov 24

1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59 / Luke 19:45-48

Judas goes to Jerusalem; He purified and rededicated the Temple.

The story in today's reading describes the origin of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah. One Catholic writer made an interesting application of the feast to Catholic life. He said the condition of the Temple desecrated by the Gentiles is not unlike the condition of a soul desecrated by sin.

Moreover, the purification and rededication of the Temple resemble the sacrament of Reconciliation. As the purification and dedication removed the disgrace of the Gentiles, so reconciliation removes the disgrace of sin from the soul.


To what extent do we see the sacrament of Reconciliation as not only a purification but also a rededication of ourselves to God? “Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.' Is 1:18


After his first military victories over the Syrians, Judas Maccabeus wanted to restore legitimate worship. He had the desecrated Temple cleansed and consecrated anew, rebuilt the altar, and offered the sacrifice in accordance with the Law.


If we were asked what is the most significant item in the church, just what will our answer be? Would we say that it is the tabernacle, where the Sacred Species are kept? Or would we say that it is the crucifix, or the stained glass, or the statues? All these are certainly significant enough, but there is one essential item that makes the church a holy place and a house of prayer. It is none other than the altar. It may look rather ordinary, much like a table, but it is on the altar that the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Without the altar, then there will be no sacrifice, and hence there will be no Mass. 

In the 1st reading, we see how significant the altar was. The people rose at dawn and offered a lawful sacrifice on the new altar of holocausts which they had made. The altar was dedicated, and the people prostrated in adoration, and they celebrated for eight days the dedication of the altar, joyfully offering holocausts, communion sacrifices and thanksgivings.


It was such a contrast in the gospel, wherein the Temple, there was some selling and business going on, such that Jesus had to say that according to scripture, the Temple is a house of prayer but some people had turned it into a robbers' den. Let us remember these words of Jesus and let us always have reverence for the House of God and for the altar of sacrifice. The respect and reverence we show is also an indication of the faith and love we have for God.


Jesus drove out the merchants from the Temple and it might be a good time to ask ourselves: What has the Lord to drive out from us to make us better Christians? What stands in the way of being closer to him in the life of every day? What matters for us Christians is that we are attached to the Lord and close to the people he has entrusted to us. Then, we can worship him with our whole life.



God our Father, we often turn our hearts into houses of pride and greed rather than into homes of love and goodness where you can feel at home.  Destroy the temple of sin in us, drive away all evil from our hearts, and make us living stones of a community in which can live and reign your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, forever and ever. Amen


Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions

November 24

Andrew Dung-Lac, a Catholic convert ordained to the priesthood, was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of the companions group gave their lives for Christ in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and received beatification during four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized during the papacy of Saint John Paul II.

Christianity came to Vietnam through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.

Severe persecutions were launched at least three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.

In 1832, Emperor Minh-Mang banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in the homes of the faithful.

Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons.

The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.

By 1954, there were over a million Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.

During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now reunited, the entire country is under Communist rule.