"When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar." —1 Maccabees 2:24
The Lord in His word commends Mattathias, Phinehas (Ps 106:30-31), and many others for their zeal. Mattathias shouted: "Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow after Me!" (1 Mc 2:27) Jesus Himself epitomized the words of Scripture: "Zeal for Your house consumes Me" (Jn 2:17; Ps 69:10). Zeal for the law, God's house, and His kingdom marks a disciple of Jesus.
In the new covenant, however, zeal is not primarily directed toward people. Our battle is not against human forces but against the devil (Eph 6:12). Because of our zeal, we no longer put others to death, but let them kill us. This does not mean we are passive. No, we are zealous, militant, extremely active, yet not violent. Zeal expressed violently plays right into the devil's hands. When we act and react violently, we let ourselves be duped by the devil into working for his kingdom.
In contrast, zeal for Jesus' kingdom is zeal as He is zealous. Like Jesus, we attack the enemy by letting them attack us. Truth (Jn 8:32), goodness (Rm 12:21), and love (1 Cor 13:8) are our weapons of victory, if we have the faith and zeal to use them.
Prayer: Father, because of my apathy, millions are murdered through abortion, starvation, and injustice. Give me zeal.
Promise: "Thereupon, he fled to the mountains with his sons, leaving behind in the city all their possessions. Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom went out into the desert." —1 Mc 2:28-29
Praise: St. Elizabeth, though owning many riches, sold them for the sake of those who had nothing.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape Spiritual Warfare on audio AV 57-3 or video V-57.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 21, 2005
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