Can you enforce uniformity in pluralistic diversity? Thursday, 33rd week in ordinary time – 1 Maccabees 2:15-29

In order to deal with threats to his vast empire from within, Antiochus IV decided to ‘unite’ his subjects under a uniform civil code and culture called Hellenism. It was his hope that the imposition of Greek culture and language would eventually ‘unify’ his kingdom thus making it easier to administer and govern. King Antiochus like many cruel tyrants of today, did so first by inducement and then finally by brute force.

A uniform civil code in a pluralistic, multi ethnic, religious and linguistic society is bound to fail if that code is made by a single man with a single agenda (or even worse by a parliament where many have criminal records themselves). An attempt, if any, to write such a civil code should rest with the best minds of the nation, representing religion, culture, language, gender etc., or else it will be a pseudo- democratic process with autocratic intentions of staying in power forever ( welcome to the world of the likes of Vladimir Putin)

While many of the Jews in the Maccabean period succumbed to the vile threats of this cruel tyrant, King Antiochus, the scriptures of today tell us of the bravery of the family of Mattathias. In all probability Mattathias had moved from Jerusalem to the city of Modein to avoid the sacrifice that was mandated by King Antiochus. This monthly sacrifice coincided with the celebration of the king’s birthday.

Having left Jerusalem to avoid such an abomination, it was not likely that Mattathias would bow to the king’s wishes in what might have been his home town. The scriptures tell us that Mattathias was offered inducements to be part of the ‘king’s friends’. This was the lowest of the four ranks in the order of ‘friends of the king’ (friends, honoured friends, first friends, preferred friends).

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