The Temptation and Corruption of the Just: The first reading today is very interesting. It simply demonstrates what is present in our society today, how the just man is tempted and corrupted for fame and worldly recognition, and the corruption of the just, the bible says, is the worst corruption.
When the men of the underworld want to drag a just man to the mud and destroy his strong will and spirituality, they would always lure him or her with lots of promises of showing him or her the way of a business enterprise of who is who in the society; getting him or her connected to heads of states, ministers, kings, prince and princess, the oligarchs that would boost their business empire or firm and acceptance among the king makers of the society. And this type of influence and power is what most people are looking for, but it does not go without a price. Most of the time, it robs the people of their moral integrity, destroys their conscience, and puts them in disobedience to the law of God. It puts them in a total pursuit of materialism. And when this happens, they would lose their friendships, and the priority of the supremacy of God in their lives. They would then do whatever it takes to maintain friendship with the world and king makers to remain relevant according to the world standard. And as we all know, friendship with the world becomes an enemy with God.
Mattathias faced this type of temptation before the king’s commissioner because he was outstanding in character and integrity, among others. As such, they pleaded with him to be the first to come forward and conform to the kings’ decree and if he does, he and his sons shall be reckoned among the Friends of the King, and that he and his sons shall be honoured with gold and silver and many presents (I Maccabees 2:18). What a wonderful offer!
The offer is so huge and enticing that it is very hard to let go. And with the severe economic realities biting many nations of the world today and destituteness in many families, I doubt the number that would stand like Mattathias, as many are searching for survival in pastured and arid parts of the world today which is the reason for massive migration all over the world.
Obedience to the Law
The reaction of Mattathias to the temptation is very amazing and his response encouraging. He would prefer dying to breaking the law. In his brevity, he said to the king’s commissioners, ‘even if every nation living in the king’s dominions obeys him, each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees, I, my sons, and brothers will still follow the covenant of our ancestors. Heaven forbids us from forsaking the law and observances’ (1 Maccabees 2: 21).
He bluntly refused to go contrary to his right belief and practices. And he rejected not only the offer but went ahead to prevent others from doing it. He preferred God to any other thing, and that is how it is supposed to be. But these days, the quest for wealth and power would not allow many of us to act within the obedience of the God’s law as Mattathias did, we would prefer to do the contrary because for most people, the end justifies the means, and that is the reason behind the tumult over the governments of the world.
Mattathias has shown to be different. He obeyed the law and maintained his integrity and obedience to the law of God. And that’s not all. He became a strong advocate of law by encouraging others to follow him in obedience to the Lord’s command and not that of the king nor other leaders of the world. Let us therefore reflect over Mattathias belief and emulate his evangelism to the rule of law.
Peace be with you.