Day 249: Prayer of Judith

Jeremiah 37:1-21 The events of this chapter probably occurred while Judah was under siege from Babylon. The Babylonian army interrupted their invasion of Judah to do battle with the Egyptians. It was during this break in the fighting that Zedekiah asked Jeremiah to intervene with the Lord. Jeremiah responded that the Chaldeans (Babylonians) would return and raze Jerusalem. When Jeremiah visited his hometown, he was accused of consorting with the enemy, since Anathoth was already behind enemy lines. Beaten and imprisoned, Jeremiah was interrogated by the king but did not back down on his prophecy.

Ch 38:1-28 The prophet was cast into a cistern but was saved from death by the Ethiopian official Ebed-melech. Interrogated by Zedekiah again, Jeremiah restated that the king should surrender to the Babylonians; if he did, he would be treated better and Jerusalem would be spared.

Judith 8:1-27 Judith, a wealthy and devout Jewish widow, criticized the city’s leaders for having taken the oath. Though they were the ones being tested, they in turn put God to the test, seeking a miracle by a five-day deadline. God, however, protected his people according to his own plan. Prayer must always be inspired by faith and trust. God allows sufferings and disappointments for the sake of purification and growth in sanctity; suffering, then, is both a means and an inducement for growing in perfection. “The purpose of penance is to overcome evil, which under different forms lies dormant in man. Its purpose is also to strengthen goodness both in man himself and in his relationships with others and especially with God” (St. John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, 12). On a practical level, Bethulia (which may be a mythical city) was said to be the final buffer between the Assyrians and Jerusalem. Judith’s wisdom pleased Uzziah, and she derived a plan to resolve the standoff with Holofernes. (CCC 312, 1040)

Ch 9:1-14 The rape of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (cf. Gn 34), symbolizes all the indignities Israel had suffered at the hands of pagans. The Assyrians were mighty, but God is mightier still; therefore, Judith petitioned God to destroy the forces of evil. Defeat through the prayers of a woman would have been particularly shameful to the Assyrians. 

Proverbs 17:6 Mutual respect and affection  among family members maintains solidarity, harmony, and joy in the family. (CCC 2219, 2199)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much. Gosh, Lord, thank you! Thank you for the witness of Jeremiah. Thank you for the courage and faithfulness of Judith. Thank you so much for the fact that we are not the first people to walk this road. That whatever road we are walking today, we are not the first upon this path. That there are so many who have walked before us, who have walked in trial, who have walked in testing, who have walked in darkness, and not knowing where the path would lead, but knowing that you were with them, that YOU ARE WITH US. Lord God, surround us not only with your Grace and your Presence, but also remind us that we are surrounded by those who have gone before us. That cloud of witnesses from Hebrews Ch 12, that cloud of witnesses that cheers us on, that prays for us, and intercedes on our behalf, that gives glory to you, and intercedes for us. We are not the first, Lord God, and we will not be the last. But help us to be faithful. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”