Day 287: Eleazar's Sacrifice

1 Maccabees 6:1-17 Antiochus died grief-stricken over his military defeats and repentant of the evils he had visited upon Judea. He charged Philip, his subordinate, to oversee the affairs of Syria until his own son, Antiochus Eupator, was old enough to rule.

Ch 6:18-47 Judas’s forces held the Temple area but were surrounded by the Syrians. As the fighting continued, defectors and Hellenized Jews petitioned the king for reinforcements to defeat the Judean army. 

Ch 6:48-63 Judas and his men retreated due to the power of the Syrian forces and the shortage of food to keep up the defense. Nevertheless, God protected the Judean forces. When Lysias, the Syrian commander, learned that Philip was in charge of Persia, he was anxious to return home. Misrepresenting the military situation as a standoff, Lysias successfully convinced Philip to grant the Jews freedom of worship and end the hostilities. Lysias then returned to Antioch, where he wrested control of the city from Philip. 

Sirach 16:1-23 Some Jews viewed God as aloof and distant from people, so much so that the acts of any one individual on earth might escape his notice. On the contrary, God, who created everything down to the finest detail and arranged all of creation “in an eternal order,” has perfect knowledge of our interior dispositions, virtuous actions, and sins. (CCC 681)

Ch 16:14 Other ancient authorities add verses 15 and 16: “The Lord hardened Pharaoh so that he did not know him; in order that his works might be known under heaven. His mercy is manifest to the whole of creation, and he divided his light and darkness with a plumb line.” 

Ch 17:1-32 In another statement endorsing intelligent design, the author mentions that this order and harmony in creation can lead us to recognize the God who created it since it reflects the divine intelligence. God revealed his wisdom not only through creation but also through a direct Revelation of himself by inspiring the Sacred Authors of the Old and New Testaments. God has no obligation to share his goodness and his everlasting life; however, out of his infinite love and wisdom, he created us gratuitously with the capacity to share in his goodness.

Ch 17:4 Other ancient authorities add verse 5: “They obtained the use of the five operations of the Lord; as sixth he distributed to them the gift of mind, and as seventh reason, the interpreter of his operations.”

Ch 17:15 Other ancient authorities add verses 16 and 17: “Their ways from youth tend toward evil, and they are unable to make for themselves hearts of flesh in place of their stony hearts. For in the division of the nations of the whole earth.”

Ch 17:17 Other ancient authorities add verse 18: “...whom, being his first-born, he brings up with discipline, and allotting to him the light of his love, he does not neglect him.”

Ch 17:20 Other ancient authorities add verse 21: “But the Lord, who is gracious and knows his creatures, has neither left nor abandoned them, but spared them.”

Ch 17:22 The poor and suffering are beloved especially by God, as indicated in the Beatitudes. To give alms to the poor shows true love and charity for Christ, who appears as the least of our brethren (cf. Mt 25). Almsgiving is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy along with feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. (CCC 2447)

Ch 18:1-14 God is infinitely happy and glorified within himself, and nothing outside himself can add to his glory; nonetheless, in his infinite goodness he created man and woman to share in his divine life. His love is so immense that he loves every person unconditionally and glories in forgiving all offenses as long as there is contrition. 

What is man?: We possess immense dignity because we were made by God in his image and likeness and are endowed with an immortal soul. We are also unique among all creation in that we are called into communion with God and are invited to live forever in his heavenly kingdom. (CCC 1710-1715)

Ch 18:2 Other ancient authorities add verse 3: “...and there is no other beside him; he steers the world with the span of his hand, and all things obey his will; for he is king of all things, by his power separating among them the holy things from the profane.”

Ch 18:15-33 Caution is urged in all speech and conduct: think before you speak, look before you leap, and repent before you die. These proverbs not only advise against moral and spiritual laxity but also hint strongly at forming a true and sensitive conscience in harmony with moral law. A person is not culpable for a sin committed as the result of invincible ignorance; however, he or she is culpable for sins committed as the result of vincible ignorance since knowledge of the fault was certainly possible. Repeated acts against moral law can lead to a blindness of conscience. (CCC 2223)

Ch 18:30 Temperance of passions and appetites is essential to achieving self-control, a necessary condition for holiness. (CCC 1809)

Proverbs 22:17 This verse initiates the collection of proverbs from “the wise men,” which may have come from other cultures outside Judaism. They are presented as maxims that tend to be longer and more elaborate than the two-line proverbs of Solomon.

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we just give you thanks. Thank you so much, God, for your Word. Thank you for, again, continuing to unfold this history of the people of Israel in front of us. Thank you for continuing to shape us with the wisdom of Ben Sirach. We ask that you please give us your Grace this day and every day so we can belong to you and give glory to you in everything that we do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”