The Holy Machabees

From the Sermons of St. Gregory of Nazianzus (Patriarch of Constantinople)

What were the Machabees For it is under their name that the Festival at which you are this day assembled is kept. It is true that many persons do not hold them in honour, because they fought before the coming of Christ nevertheless they deserve to be venerated by all men, for they bore themselves bravely and faithfully in defence of the laws and ordinances of their people. They that underwent martyrdom before Christ came, what would not have been their deeds, if they had suffered persecution after He came, and had had before them for a pattern the Death which He embraced for the sake of man’s salvation With no example to lead them, their bravery was what it was had they had the example before their eyes, would they not have gone down with double nerve to the battle There is a mystic and subtle idea, which seemeth very likely to me and to all lovers of God, that none of those who were crowned with martyrdom before Christ came, could have been so, unless they had had faith in Christ.

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