Day 283: Mattathias Attacks

1 Maccabees 2:1-14 The priest Mattathias and his sons, mourning the sacrileges and persecutions, decided to defend their right to freedom of worship. Under the circumstances, the Jews had no choice but to throw off their oppressors in order to live their faith in peace. It is clear that this constituted a just war under the criteria established by the Church, which includes a just cause and a proportionate exercise of self-defense with a reasonable chance of success. Lastly, the objective was to secure liberation from injustice without incurring greater evils. (CCC 2308-2309)

Ch 2:15-28 When he was offered a bribe to make a pagan sacrifice, Mattathias loudly proclaimed his rejection of the king’s command. Making an example of a fellow Jew who approached the pagan altar, he destroyed it, and then led his sons to the hills to rally those who wished to fight against the oppressors of their religion.

Ch 2:29-48 The Sabbath rest was obligatory, but not in an absolute sense. The Pharisees in the time of Christ had interpreted the Law so stringently that it had lost its original spirit, so much so that a good deed performed on behalf of someone in need was seen as a violation of the Sabbath. Christ made it clear that it was quite laudatory to serve the needs of others even on the Sabbath. The Maccabeans viewed self-defense as permissible on the Sabbath and permitted the “good” of self-defense of the Jews whenever they are attacked on the Sabbath.

Hasidaeans: This conservative sect of Jews followed the Law very strictly. They formed an alliance with the Maccabees to secure religious freedom; however, as they were largely uninterested in political affairs, they would later prove to be a hindrance to the Maccabees. Scholars are not in agreement as to what eventually happened to the Hasidaeans, and some have suggested that from this group emerged the Pharisees or the Essenes. (CCC 582)

Ch 2:49-70 In his dying days, Mattathias urged his sons and followers to continue the fight in defense of the Law. He called for vengeance against the Gentiles and named his son Judas Maccabeus, which means “hammer,” to continue the struggle for their liberation from their enemies. 

Gathered to his fathers: This euphemism for death is employed frequently in Scripture.

Sirach 4:1-10 These proverbs have a paternal tone, addressing the reader as “son.” Humility and compassion lead the individual to become likened to a child of God. At this stage in Israel’s history, to be a “son of God” meant to have a particularly intimate relationship with the Father; this term and others like it often applied to Israel’s kings or to the people of Israel as a whole. The passage also details some basic principles for social living that represent the natural corollary to loving God and neighbor. (CCC 441, 2419, 2421)

Ch 4:11-31 In a Christian context, to seek and embrace wisdom is to seek and embrace Christ, who is the begotten Wisdom of the Father. The counsels outlined here describe the kind of sound discretion, humility, and courage that should exemplify faith in Christ. Wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 2690)

Ch 4:21 Depending on the reason for it, shame can be either good or bad. A negative form of shame is a kind of discouragement brought about by spiritual laziness in prayer life (acedia); apathy toward repentance and holiness are symptoms of a lackluster spiritual life. A positive form of shame consists in recognizing one’s sins and resolving to overcome occasions of sin and temptation through a renewed struggle and greater recourse to God. As the Catechism teaches, “The humble are not surprised by their distress; it leads them to trust more, to hold fast in constancy” (CCC 2733). (CCC 2091)

Ch 5:1-15 Another danger rooted in the lack of effort in struggling to live a virtuous life is the sin of presumption. A presumptuous person counts on God’s forgiveness and reward without the good deeds necessary to conform to God’s will. Another form of presumption is the reliance on one’s personal actions for salvation. Presumption and acedia constitute offenses against the First Commandment and against the theological virtue of hope. (CCC 2092)

Ch 5:2 Self-mastery is a consequence of the virtue of temperance. Habitual acts of self-control give a person dominion over the passions and appetites, ordering them toward the service of good acts. Without temperate dispositions and habits, the passions and appetites enslave a person. Along with fortitude, justice, and prudence, temperance is one of the Cardinal Virtues that animate all other moral virtues. (CCC 1809)

Ch 5:8 The Ninth and Tenth Commandments respectively prohibit the lustful desire for someone else’s spouse and the greedy craving for the goods of another. In a broader sense, these Commandments require effort to control thoughts and desires of both lust and avarice. Everyone will give an accounting of his or her assistance to the needs of the poor (cf. Mt 24). (CCC 2536)

Ch 6:1-17 The author offers advice on friendship throughout this book. Not only is wisdom and discretion important in choosing our friends but also we must also know how to be friends to others. (CCC 1829, 1939, 2347)

Ch 6:18-37 Those who seek after wisdom must seek above all the will of God and learn from the wisdom of others. Humility and docility in accepting and living the Commandments leads invariably to deep wisdom. (CCC 299, 2216)

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

The Jewish Response 

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and thank you. Thank you for your instruction. Thank you for your wisdom that you share with us. And thank you for shaping our hearts and shaping our eyes, shaping our minds to be able to see your Will and to be able to desire to do your Will in everything. Help us. Help us, Lord, to be able to do what we desire, to be able to do what you want for us. Without your Grace, we can do nothing. With your Grace, all things are possible. Hear our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.”