Day 282: Antiochus Desecrates the Temple

Introduction to MACCABEAN REVOLT (with Jeff Cavins)

The First Book of Maccabees

Author and Date:

  • The Greek text of the First Book of Maccabees was translated from a Hebrew original, which has not survived.

  • The sacred writer was likely a faithful Jew who lived in Palestine, possibly in Jerusalem, around 100 BC, only a few decades after the events in the narrative took place.

  • He used many sources from the Temple archives, which included a variety of official correspondence, documents, and even bronze plaques that honored Simon, one of the Maccabean brothers.


Audience:

  • The First Book of Maccabees was probably intended as a hagiography of the leaders of the Maccabean revolt for the generations of Palestinian Jews that followed.


Main Themes:

  • The book is similar to the historical narrative but omits some key defeats in the revolution and misstates certain details.

  • The editorial internet is to praise the three brothers (Judas, Jonathan, and Simon) who led the revolt and to show that God’s hand was guiding the course of events as the Hasmonean dynasty (named for an ancestor of the Maccabeus brothers) battled against the forces of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, leader of the Greek province of Syria, who tried to force the Jews of Judea to adopt the pagan Greek religion and culture.

  • The struggle was for religious freedom to keep the Law and the covenant that they had received from God.

  • The Law was their measuring rod for human action, and, therefore, to be a faithful Jew meant to support the Maccabees and to be willing to fight and die with great zeal for the Law and the Temple.

  • Although Judea achieved political independence for a brief time and the leaders of the revolt were each in turn given the titles of high priest and even king, this does not indicate a restoration of the kingdom.

  • The book presents God as working through the Hasmonean dynasty to advance his plan of salvation and to defend the Law and the Temple.

  • The text notes that this leadership was essentially temporary and that a “trustworthy prophet,” who would usher in a new phase in salvation history, was anticipated (cf. 14:41).

  • This figure was Christ himself, who, only a few generations later, introduced his New Covenant with the New Law and redeemed his people through the sacrifice of his Body, which is the true Temple (cf. Jn 2:22).

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


1 Maccabees 1-16 Of the four books of Maccabees, two are recognized as inspired and are, therefore, included in the canon of the Old Testament; some Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize three or all four of these books as canonical. The two Books of Maccabees differ in their ordering of events, but the essential elements remain the same. They give a history of the struggle of the Jewish people against the oppression they experienced during the last two centuries before the Birth of Christ. They speak about the revolt of the faithful Jews against the blasphemous pagan rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid King of Syria who outlawed the Jewish religion, installed his own high priest, and pillaged and profaned the Temple in Jerusalem. The First Book of Maccabees relates how the Hellenized Jews adopted Greek customs and incorporated many pagan practices. Under these circumstances, the very survival of Judaism was at stake, and much depended on the heroic efforts of faithful Jews like Mattathias and Judas Maccabeus.


Ch 1:1-15 Before his death, Alexander the Great, who had conquered the known world, divided his kingdom among his best officers. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was king of the Syrian region that included the land of Judah. He attempted to transform the region from a strictly Jewish culture into a Hellenized culture as a way of strengthening his own kingdom. When he forbade circumcision and the possession of sacred writings, many Jews acquiesced. (CCC 527, 1150)


Ch 1:10 One hundred and thirty-seventh year: The ancients counted the years from a historical event or the beginning of the reign of a monarch. This figure is based on the founding of the Seleucid dynasty, which took place in 312 BC. Thus, Antiochus IV Epiphanes began his reign in 175 BC.


Ch 1:16-40 Seeking to expand his empire, Antiochus conquered Egypt, and then turned to Jerusalem, where he stole many sacred vessels and furnishings from the Temple. He imposed a tax on the Jews and began to persecute them, killing many. Returning to Jerusalem, he plundered the city and built the Acra citadel, a fortress within the city. From this vantage point the Syrians could control the entrance to the Temple-and thus control its worship-and had a clear view of much of the city and the surrounding region.


Ch 1:41-53 To force unity among his subjects and loyalty to his rule, Antiochus formally imposed Greek customs and pagan worship on all people of his kingdom, effectively making the practice of the Jewish faith illegal and punishable by death. Many of the Jews had already adopted these pagan practices in most instances out of fear. A small number, however, remained faithful to the Jewish Law and practiced their faith in secret.


Ch 1:54-64 The greatest indignity was the profanation of the Temple by installing a statue of Zeus on the Temple altar, which, from the date given, took place on December 8, 167 BC. Throughout Judea the air was filled with the smoke of pagan sacrifices and the burning of confiscated sacred books. Circumcised infants and their mothers were killed with brutality.


The Book of Sirach

Author and Date:

  • Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, has been known by several names throughout history, including the ancient rabbinical rendering “Instruction of Ben Sirach” or simply “Book of Instruction.”

  • Its original author, writing in Hebrew, identified himself at the outset as “Jesus the son of Sirach, son of Eleazar, of Jerusalem” (50:27).

  • A prologue, added later by his grandson, who translated the book into Greek, states that the Sacred Author was a scholar of “the law itself, the prophecies, and the rest of the books”-the known Scriptures-and decided to write a book to help others understand and live according to the Law.

  • Jesus, son of Sirach, probably wrote his book about 190 to 180 BC as he evidently knew of the death of the high priest Simon (196 BC) but was unaware of the persecutions under Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC).

  • His grandson made his translation sometime after his arrival in Egypt “in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Euergetes,” which would place the Greek text at 132 BC or later.

  • Sirach today exists in several Greek variants, including the Septuagint.

  • A twelfth century AD text in Hebrew was discovered in Egypt in 1896, and fragments dating from the first century BC were found in the twentieth century at Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls) and Masada.

  • The first Latin edition, translated from one of the longer Greek versions and featuring some additional text, was produced in the second century AD for the Vetus Latina Latin Bible, and it was this version that St. Jerome used for his Vulgate (he did not retranslate it).


Audience:

  • As Jesus, son of Sirach, was “of Jerusalem” and wrote in Hebrew, he clearly intended his book to be read in Palestine and perhaps used in the Jewish schools that studied the sacred books.

  • For his part, the Greek translator states in his prologue that he had in mind to “publish the book for those living abroad who wished to gain learning, being prepared in character to live according to the law,” i.e., the Greek speaking Jews of the Diaspora.


Main Themes:

  • The themes of Sirach resonate well with the key ideas in the wisdom literature: It is good to seek wisdom, specifically divine wisdom; “to fear the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom” (1:14); God is the fullness of wisdom; the Law (the Pentateuch) is the main source of wisdom; and a wise person is one who keeps the Law and observes proper worship of God.

  • Sirach offered wise counsel on a range of topics including sin and repentance, humility, family life, societal relationships, prudence, and the meanings of life and death.

  • He spoke of God rewarding the just at the end of their lives but did not explicitly point to an afterlife.

  • Worship, particularly Temple worship, was key to living a moral life in keeping with divine wisdom.

  • Divine Providence is found not only in the blessings of God but also in the faithful persons and leaders whose observance of the covenant and the Law sets an example for others to follow-a strong affirmation of the power of personal witness through a person’s actions and lived experience.

  • Wisdom, finally, is mediated to the world through the Chosen People of Israel.

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


Sirach, The Prologue

Also known as Ecclesiasticus (not to be confused with The Book of Ecclesiastes, which is sometimes called the Book of Wisdom), this book was written in Hebrew by Ben Sirach and translated into Greek by his grandson, who appended the explanatory prologue. Sirach is a book that attempts to teach morality and the Law through a combination of loosely poetic proverbs and parables. Scholars have identified five sections in this book, each of which introduces a topic and then exhorts the reader to be faithful to the Law and Commandments. It dates from the second century BC, while Judah was still under Greek rule. Faithful teachers of Judaism emphasized fidelity and loyalty to the Law to protect the Jews from pagan influences and uphold their religious traditions.


Ch 1:1-30 God is the source of all wisdom; therefore, attainment of wisdom consists in keeping God’s Commandments. The beauty, harmony, and order of creation reveal in a finite way God’s eternal wisdom. This book makes an argument for what today would be called knowing God through “intelligent design.” It is also one of the arguments used by St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century to show that God can be known through the light of human reason. (CCC 31-35)


Ch 1:20 Other ancient authorities add verse 21: “The fear of the Lord drives away sins; and where it abides, it will turn away all anger.”


Ch 1:22 Self-mastery refers to temperance in all of the human passions, including anger and pride. To direct the passions toward choosing good acts, they must be controlled so they serve the dictates of right reason. Unlike nonrational animals, the human being does not act on instinct but makes choices involving the moderation of impulses and appetites. (CCC 1809, 1838, 2290, 2339)


Ch 2:1-18 The author exhorted his readers to consider the example of past generations and how their trust in God preserved them through many trials. Those who humbly trust in God will always find him present, offering his mercy and strength amid trials and tribulations.


Prepare yourself for temptation: Even Christ himself, because he was fully human, experienced temptation, notably during his retreat into the wilderness. He withstood the temptation because his human will was in total submission to and therefore perfectly aligned with the will of his Father. His example demonstrates that it is possible to overcome temptations by rejecting them promptly and calling upon God for help. (CCC 538-540, 566)


Ch 2:9 Every person has a natural desire for happiness that can only be satisfied by God, the universal good. The indispensable requirement to approach God consists in a life of virtue that is tantamount to fidelity to his Commandments. (CCC 1818)


Ch 3:1-16 Just as parents have a responsibility to raise and educate their children, so do children have an obligation to honor and support their parents. This ought to be done in a spirit of gratitude, returning to one’s parents the sacrifices that they made on the child’s behalf. Such honor of one’s parents is required by the Fourth Commandment. Excerpts from this chapter comprise the First Reading on the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. (CCD 2215-2230; CSDC 135)


Ch 3:17-29 Greek philosophy of the day insisted on reason as the sole arbiter of truth, but observant Jews knew that faith played a strong role as well. Truths of faith, though some go beyond the scope of reason, nevertheless, cannot contradict reason. The mysteries of faith can be penetrated in part by reason, and reason is purified and elevated by divinely revealed truths. Thus, faith and reason complement each other and work in tandem. (CCC 159)


Ch 3:24 Other ancient authorities add verse 25: “If you have no eyes you will be without light; if you lack knowledge do not profess to have it.”


Ch 3:30-31 Almsgiving atones for sin: This should not be taken to mean that a person can “buy” his or her way out of sin through charitable giving. The sense of these verses is that sincere, compassionate, and generous assistance offered to the poor and needy is a very effective penitential act and a stimulus to virtue, which atones for sins. Works of mercy such as almsgiving have always been urged in the laws of Israel. Usually, someone who gives alms generously loves God interiorly and wants to please him. (CCC 1471, 1478-1479, 2447)

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




  • At the age of twenty, the young, educated (he was tutored by Aristotle), and courageous prince Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II, as king of Macedon in 336 B.C.

  • His accession to the throne had an incalculable impact on the Jews whose ancestors had returned from Babylonian captivity a century or two earlier.

  • In the course of his eastward expansion, Alexander defeated the Persian ruler Darius III in 333 BC and effectively ended Persian rule in Palestine, thus launching Judah into a new era.

  • The conquests of Alexander “the Great,” as he came to be known, spread Greek culture across the Near East, providing a new basis for unity in territories otherwise characterized by more diverse, regional ways of life.

  • Greek thought and practices permeated local cultures to yield “Hellenism” (Hellas is Greek for “Greece”), a synthesis that brought about an international, cosmopolitan consciousness to the diverse peoples of Alexander’s empire.

  • Temples to Greek gods arose throughout the region, and gymnasiums were built to disseminate the Greek ideals by training both the body and the mind of young men.

  • When Alexander’s empire was divided among his generals after his death, Palestine was a jewel fought over by the new, smaller, neighboring kingdoms.

  • Initially, the Jews in Palestine found freedom to continue their religious practices under the rule of Ptolemy, who reigned in Egypt over what was the southern portion of Alexander’s empire.

  • However, when the northern Seleucid kingdom conquered the Ptolemies and took control of Palestine, the fate of the Jews changed drastically.

  • The Seleucid king desecrated the Temple and demanded that the Jews forsake their belief in the one true God, worship pagan gods, and eat foods forbidden by the Torah.

  • With the threat of death hanging over the Jews, the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees recount the different responses of God’s people to the harsh situation in which they found themselves.

  • Some of the Jews gave in to the king’s commands, forsaking the Torah and the covenant, while others, led by the Maccabees, revolted against the oppressive Seleucid ruler, taking back the Temple and rededicating it to God’s service.

  • Still others laid down their lives in martyrdom, a witness to their fidelity and trust in God, offering themselves as a sacrifice that cried out to heaven for God’s mercy.

  • These various responses of God’s people will help divide this period into its various acts.

  • Act one will look at the Maccabees and their fight against the oppression of the Seleucids.

  • Act two will look at the response of martyrdom and its fruit.


Act 1: The Maccabees Rise of Revolt

  • After Alexander the Great’s sudden and untimely death in 323 B.C., his empire was divided among his leading generals, known as Diadochi or “successors,” with Seleucus ruling over Mesopotamia and Persia and Ptolemy I ruling over Egypt and Palestine.

  • Ptolemy I and his successors ruled over the region of Palestine for almost one hundred years (301-200 BC), and under Ptolemaic rule, the Palestinian Jews enjoyed relative freedom from the imposition of Hellenism.

  • However, Antiochus IV, the Seleucid descendant and king who assumed the title “Theos Epiphanes,” or “God Manifest,” possessed the great ambition of wresting Egypt from the hands of the Ptolemies.

  • After defeating Pharaoh Ptolemy IV and taking control of Palestine, Antiochus turned his attention to strengthening and unifying this newly acquired borderland of his empire.

  • To do this, he attempted to displace key symbols of the Jewish people with Greek ideas and practices.

  • He found ready support in Hellenized Jews who longed to “make a covenant with the Gentiles” for the sake of political and social stability (1 Mc 1:11).

  • These Jews built a gymnasium in Jerusalem.

  • A Greek gymnasium was not only a center of learning (including inculcating pagan religious traditions) but also a center for Greek cultural and sports traditions.

  • Students in the gymnasium engaged in athletic competitions naked, creating a situation where the difference between circumcised and uncircumcised youth was instantly evident.

  • Enormous pressure was put on Jews to forsake their religious traditions and surgically reverse the marks of circumcision in an effort to fit into the larger Hellenistic culture.

  • Intensifying his push for Hellenization, Antiochus IV desecrated the Temple by trespassing into its sanctuary, plundering its gold and silver, and erecting an altar to the god Zeus in its precincts.

  • Antiochus also destroyed copies of the Torah and sentenced to death anyone who was found to possess a copy of the Torah or observed its teachings.

  • Antiochus ordered the total suppression of Temple sacrifices, Sabbath observance, and the practice of circumcision.

  • In place of these, shrines and altars to the Greek gods were to be set up, and the Jews were to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals to the pagan deities.

  • Jews were forced to eat food sacrificed to Greek gods and take part in festal processions held in honor of these deities (2 Mc 6:7-8).

  • Those who were caught observing the Sabbath were burned (2 Mc 6:11).

  • Families who were found to have circumcised their infants were put to death; as for the circumcised children, these were hung from their mothers’ necks (1 Mc 1:61 f.; 2 Mc 6:10).

  • Antiochus saw to it that the walls of Jerusalem were torn down, and he established a citadel in Jerusalem and filled it with troops to ensure that the Jews kept his orders.

  • In doing these things the Seleucid king attacked the three central symbols of Judah’s return to the land: the Temple that had been rebuilt under Zerubbabel, the Torah that had been the focus of Ezra’s ministry, and the walls that had been reconstructed under Nehemiah.

  • All this was part of the king’s program to obliterate Jewish distinctiveness and assimilate the people of Judah into the unified dynasty for which Antiochus Epiphanes longed.

  • Thus, the considerable religious freedom the Jews found under the Ptolemies disappeared under the Seleucid’s aggressive promotion of Hellenistic culture as a means of unifying their diverse subjects.

  • The resulting clash with the traditional symbols of Jewish identity created a volatile atmosphere ripe for revolt.

(Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Key Event 53: Antiochus Desecrates the Temple (1 Maccabees 1:20-62, 4:43)

The Seleucid king Antiochus IV, who reigns from 175-164 BC, wages a severe persecution against the Jews, demolishing the three key symbols of Jewish identity after the exile: He destroys the city walls (rebuilt by Nehemiah), desecrates the Temple (rebuilt by Zerubbabel), and seeks to eliminate Torah observance (restored under Ezra).

  • Welcome to the Maccabean Revolt!!

  • There are books here that many of you in the Bible in a Year community have never read

  • BUT…

  • The Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church believe these books to be part of the canon

  • They are part of the Deuterocanonical Books

  • We talked a little bit about them when we read Judith, Baruch, Tobit, and parts of Daniel and Esther that are not necessarily in Protestant translations of the Bible

  • These books are REALLY INCREDIBLE

  • They are considered inspired FROM THE VERY BEGINNING OF CHRISTIANITY

  • The Bible was really codified in maybe say 350 or 398 AD with the Councils of Rome and Carthage

  • When this was challenged in the 1500s, the Council of Trent said that these 73 books, including the books in the Septuagint are CANON

  • We will get deeper into this later on

  • All the chapters in Maccabees are longer

  • So settle in, brew some tea

  • Enjoy this story

  • IT IS REMARKABLE!!

  • IT IS INCREDIBLE!!

  • IT IS DRAMATIC!!

  • IT IS PHENOMENAL!!

  • IT IS COURAGEOUS!!

  • SO ENJOY THE STORY!!

  • 1 Maccabees is what we are reading the next few days

  • 2 Maccabees is kind of the same story but told in different ways

  • Kind of like Numbers and Deuteronomy were the same story told in different ways

  • We’ll get there when we get there

  • So what happened in Maccabees?

  • There’s this guy named Alexander and he was pretty great

  • He conquered the known world

  • This is the very beginning of Maccabees Ch 1

  • As he is dying, he does not have any heirs

  • They don’t inherit his kingdom

  • So he divides his kingdom among four generals

  • The descendant of one of those generals is Antiochus Epiphanes

  • Around 175 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes begins this severe persecution against the Jews

  • THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT

  • Up to this point, we had the Babylonians, the Persians, and even a little bit with Alexander himself

  • There was religious tolerance

  • Obviously we had Daniel in the lion’s den

  • We also had Mordecai

  • There were times where the Jews refused to bow down to the gods of their conquerors

  • But for the most part, there was religious tolerance towards the Jewish people

  • UNTIL…

  • Antiochus Epiphanes

  • He comes to Jerusalem and he has hard totalitarianism

  • He also has SOFT TOTALITARIANISM

  • Soft totalitarianism means, “You know what, things get along if you go along,”

  • Things get easier if you LOOK LIKE EVERYONE ELSE

  • Things get easier if you LIVE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE

  • This is the same hold, same old temptation that we saw the moment the children of Israel walked into and were led into the Promised Land

  • Let’s be like the Canaanites

  • Let’s be like the Hivites

  • Let’s be like the Jebusites

  • Let’s be like the Moabites

  • And now in this case, let’s be like the Greeks

  • Greek civilization at this point was a pretty big deal

  • It was super advanced

  • Of course, there were Asian civilizations at the same time that were flourishing in some remarkable ways

  • BUT…

  • Greek civilization was kind of a high point here

  • So the Jews see this incredible Greek civilization

  • One of the things that happens is this gymnasium is built in Jerusalem

  • Do you know the etymology of the word gymnastics?

  • It means NAKED DANCING or NAKED EXERCISE

  • That’s because the Greeks would exercise naked so they would call it gymnastics

  • Why is Fr. Mike making this point?

  • If you build a gymnasium in Jerusalem and you exercise naked, then it becomes REALLY CLEAR to everybody who is Jewish and who is not Jewish

  • Who is CIRCUMCISED and who is NOT CIRCUMCISED

  • So it’s on display who is a person of the Covenant and not a Gentile, not a Greek

  • Maccabees 1:15, “...removed the marks of circumcision…” (skin graft, I suppose 🤔)

  • Basically, they APOSTATIZED

  • They turned away and said, “No I do not belong to the God of Israel.”

  • THIS IS REMARKABLE!!

  • “I want to blend in so much that I will submit myself to this new surgery that will cover up the mark of circumcision.”

  • They wanted to fit in that much

  • That is SOFT TOTALITARIANISM

  • They wanted to fit in and be like everyone else

  • The HARD TOTALITARIANISM comes along with the Installation of Gentile Cults

  • Not only does Antiochus Epiphanes come into Jerusalem and steal much from the Temple

  • He also erects the desolation of abomination

  • What is that?

  • Some people say it is a statue of Zeus that Antiochus Epiphanes put up in the Temple

  • IMAGINE THAT!!

  • On the altar dedicated to the Lord God, they set up worship of Zeus

  • SUCH A DISTORTION!!

  • INCREDIBLE FALL AND PRESSURE THAT WAS PLACED UPON THOSE FAITHFUL JEWS IN JERUSALEM!!

  • This is an interesting thing because we hear it briefly described that there were Jews that refused to eat the food that was prohibited from them

  • IN FACT…

  • Things get really bad

  • Maccabees 1:57-58, 60, “...the decree of the king condemned him to death. They kept using violence against Israel, against those found month after month in the cities….According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung their infants from their mothers' necks.”

  • CAN YOU IMAGINE??

  • Again, this is Antiochus Epiphanes

  • The last three verses of Maccabees Ch 1 are SO POWERFUL AND NECESSARY FOR US

  • Maccabees 1:62-64, “But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die…”

  • MAN!! (OH MAN!!)

  • We are going to hear some ACTUAL STORIES in 2 Maccabees where they unpack what that incredible courage and faithfulness really looked like during this time of persecution

  • Remember Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego aka Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael? (If you don’t, go read Day 239: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher on who they were 😁)

  • Where they said, “You, O king, you can throw us into the fiery furnace and God can save us. Yet even if he will not, know that, O king, we will never bow down before you.”

  • And then God saved them

  • We have Esther

  • Mordecai said to Esther, “Yeah, you can not stand up for the Lord, but God will still deliver the people of Israel while you won’t be part of that.”

  • She does stand up and God spares her life

  • Here are these Jewish people in Jerusalem and they chose to die rather than be defiled by food or profane the holy covenant AND THEY DID DIE

  • We are going to hear these stories of COURAGE AND INCREDIBLE FAITHFULNESS

  • BUT…

  • For today we just got the groundwork for what is going to happen with the REBELLION against the Greek occupation of Jerusalem

  • Now on to Sirach

  • OH MY GOSH!!

  • YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO LOVE SIRACH!!

  • FR. MIKE LOVES IT SO MUCH!!

  • IT IS INCREDIBLE!!

  • Sirach is roughly the same time, maybe a little bit after the Maccabean Revolt

  • It is FULL OF WISDOM

  • It is ALL ABOUT WISDOM

  • It is all about FEAR OF THE LORD

  • THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM

  • Sirach 1:14, “To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...”

  • Sirach 1:16, “To fear the Lord is wisdom’s full measure...”

  • Sirach 1:18, “The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom...”

  • Sirach 1:20, “To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom…”

  • There is something so POWERFUL about this

  • What is the fear of the Lord?

  • IT IS NOT BEING SCARED OF GOD

  • IT IS NOT SHRINKING BACK BECAUSE WE THINK THAT GOD IS A TYRANT

  • IT IS NOT SHRINKING BACK BECAUSE WE THINK THAT GOD IS A VILLAIN

  • IT IS NOT SHRINKING BACK BECAUSE GOD IS SO POWERFUL AND HE IS GOING TO USE HIS POWER TO DOMINATE US OR TO RULE US

  • GOD IS NOT A TYRANT!!

  • GOD IS NOT SOFT OR HARD TOTALITARIANISM!!

  • GOD IS A GOOD GOD!!

  • BUT…

  • HE IS STILL GOD!!

  • So the FEAR OF THE LORD in the most basic way you can say it IS TAKING GOD SERIOUSLY

  • That’s the simplest way to possibly put it into words

  • What is the Fear of the Lord at its most basic?

  • Now, there are better ways to say it

  • But at its most basic...

  • THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS TAKING GOD SERIOUSLY AS GOD HIMSELF

  • How do we do that?

  • If the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, how do we get wisdom?

  • Sirach 1:26, “If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord will supply it for you.”

  • HOW FOOLISH DO WE BECOME WHEN WE DO NOT KEEP GOD’S COMMANDMENTS??

  • Sirach 1:28, “Do not disobey the fear of the Lord; do not approach him with a divided mind.”

  • Oftentimes, that’s what we do

  • We approach God with a DIVIDED MIND

  • “I want to do your will, but I don’t really want to do your will.”

  • “I want to follow you, I want to obey your Commandments, but I don't really want to obey your Commandments.”

  • THAT IS A RECIPE FOR FOOLISHNESS!!

  • WITH GOD’S GRACE WE CAN CONTINUE TO WALK IN FAITHFULNESS!!

  • One of Fr. Mike’s favorite verses IN THE ENTIRE BIBLE is Sirach 2:1, “My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, remain in justice and in fear, and prepare yourself for temptation.”

  • Sirach 2:3, “Await God’s patience, cling to him and do not depart, that you may be wise in all your ways.”

  • Sirach 2:4, “Accept whatever is brought upon you, and endure it in sorrow; in changes that humble you be patient.”

  • Sirach 2:5, “For gold and silver are tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.”

  • Sirach 2:6, “Trust in God and he will help you…”

  • BUT…

  • Fr. Mike’s favorite TRANSLATION is from the New American Bible that we read at Mass

  • The RSV-2CE that we have been reading for the last 282 days is PHENOMENAL, a GREAT TRANSLATION

  • The New American Bible is also a VERY GOOD TRANSLATION

  • Here is the New American Bible translation: “My son, when you come to serve the Lord prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity. Cling to him, forsake him not, thus will your future will be great. Accept whatever befalls you. In crushing misfortune, be patient. For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. Trust in God and he will help you. Make straight your ways and hope in him.”

  • SO POWERFUL!!

  • In Sirach Ch 3 we have Duties toward Parents and Others

  • There is something SO POWERFUL about being reminded of the duty we owe to HONORING OUR PARENTS

  • The one who HONORS their father is HONORED

  • The one who HONORS their mother is HONORED

  • The one who DISHONORS their father is DISHONORED

  • The one who DISHONORS their mother is DISHONORED

  • There is something SO POWERFUL about hearing it again and again all throughout Sirach Ch 3

  • It’s worth it because maybe in our day and age there is an element where it is really easy to MOCK PARENTS

  • WE DISMISS PARENTS

  • WE DON’T HAVE THE SAME KIND OF RESPECT THAT OTHER CULTURES HAVE FOR THEIR ANCESTORS, THEIR PARENTS, THEIR ELDERS

  • Here in Sirach Ch 3 we get reminded of HOW IMPORTANT IT IS

  • IN FACT…

  • The Fourth Commandment, Honor Thy Father and Mother, is the ONLY COMMANDMENT that comes with a BLESSING, THAT LONG LIFE MAY BE YOURS

  • Here in Sirach Ch 3 we get reminded of that once again

  • We will be journeying for the next thirty days or so in Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, and these books about the Maccabean Revolt

  • Then we will launch into the New Testament

  • This is the great beginning of our last little phase before we enter into the New Testament period and the Gospel of Luke as well as Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of Paul and the others

  • But today, we are beginning a new phase before our last phase

  • It is the PENULTIMATE TIME PERIOD before we get to the end

  • WHAT A GREAT BLESSING!!

  • WE ARE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE END!!

  • OH MY GOSH!!

  • FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU

  • PRAY FOR FR. MIKE

  • PRAY FOR EACH OTHER


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much. Thank you for this Word of yours given to us through Maccabees, this Word of yours given to us through Ben Sirach and I’m so grateful, Lord, for your constantly giving us your wisdom, your vision of who you are and what the world is, who you have made us to be, and how you have called us to live in this world. We ask you to please help us to live in this world rightly. Help us to live in this world with wisdom. Help us to walk in this world as your sons and daughters, and walk in your wisdom this day and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”