Day 295: Israel's Expectations
1 Maccabees 14:1-49 As high priest and governor of Israel, Simon received wide acclaim among the people of Israel for his faithfulness and his great accomplishments. He began the era known as the Hasmonean dynasty of Israel (140 BC to 37 BC).
Until a trustworthy prophet should arise: Simon’s reign was only temporary; the Jews were looking for a new great prophet to arise in the hope that he would anoint a new and powerful king. Jesus Christ, the greatest prophet and king, would be introduced by the extraordinary prophet John the Baptist. (CCC 578, 711, 713)
Sirach 34:1-18 Wisdom is always based on objective truth abstracted from reality. The wise person should always view the circumstances and events of daily life through the prism of God’s goodness and will.
Ch 34:19-22 To deprive the poor of basic needs, whether through commission or omission, is a grave evil. The strong language of this passage equates taking away a person’s livelihood with taking away his or her very life. Every person and government is obliged to ensure that everyone can live in dignity with sufficient food, shelter, clothing, and access to healthcare. Unjust treatment of the worker is one of the sins that cry to heaven. (CCC 1867, 2434, 2445-2446)
Ch 34:23-26 This section uses the Jewish purification law to illustrate the need to remain repentant. Just as it does not make sense to wash when one intends to get dirty again, repentance is flawed when a firm purpose of amendment is lacking. (CCC 1431, 1450-1453)
Ch 35:1-20 The author identifies three kinds of offerings that are pleasing to God: almsgiving, fidelity to the Law, and generous sacrifices. God is eternal wisdom and, therefore, every law, whether physical or moral, reflects his infinite knowledge and love.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
On bronze tablets in Jerusalem, the Jewish people proclaimed Simon their leader and made him a virtual sovereign over the nation.
The inscription read:
And the Jews and their priests decided that Simon should be their leader and high priest forever, until a trustworthy prophet should arise, and that he should be governor over them and that he should take charge of the sanctuary and appoint men over its tasks and over the country and the weapons and the strongholds, and that he should take charge of the sanctuary, and that he should be obeyed by all, and that all contracts in the country should be written in his name, and that he should be clothed in purple and wear gold. And none of the people or priests shall be permitted to nullify any of these decisions or to oppose what he says, or to convene an assembly in the country without his permission, or to be clothed in purple or put on a gold buckle. Whoever acts contrary to these decisions or nullifies any of them shall be liable to punishment. (1 Mc 14:41-45)
Thus, Simon became the first in a line of high priests who in effect governed the Jewish people as their king.
The Hasmonean Dynasty is usually said to begin with Simon.
(The term “Hasmonean” comes from the name of an ancestor of Mattathias and his sons. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Hasmon was descended from the priestly line of Jehoiarib, who is mentioned in 1 Chr 24:7).
Simon brought greater stability to Judea by bringing down the Seleucid stronghold in Gazara and repossessing the citadel of Jerusalem. Like his brothers before him, he sought security in alliance with Rome.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Only 75….wait 70...70? Yeah, 70 DAYS TO GO!!
So that Simon is a pretty great guy, eh? (Well you know his name is Simon, and he loves to do DRAWRINGS!!! 😉)
WHAT A GIFT!!
One of Fr. Mike’s favorite lines in Scripture...and he likes it because it’s TRUE and because it’s BEAUTIFUL and because it’s IN THE BIBLE and because it’s INSPIRED BY GOD HIMSELF
1 Maccabees 14:12, “Each man sat under his vine and his fig tree, and there was none to make them afraid.”
Why does Fr. Mike like it?
If you have seen the musical “Hamilton” then you know why he likes it (Ok so that’s not entirely accurate...I have seen “Hamilton” and I have no idea what he means...but that’s probably because I fell asleep during “Hamilton” and missed almost half the show 🤪)
It is when George Washington was retiring and leaving office
There is a song with a line, “Each one under their own vine and fig tree and no one to make them afraid.”
JUST A GIFT OF A LINE!!
It also comes from THE BIBLE
There are a couple of different lines that talk about this in the Old Testament
It’s just that this one is the MOST CLEAR
“Each man sat under his vine and his fig tree, and there was none to make them afraid.”
So Israel IS AT REST in many ways
REST FROM THEIR ENEMIES
Now they are going to have to fight for their sovereignty and independence
They won’t be able to hold on to it for more than 100-140 years
AT THE SAME TIME…
There’s a gift to be able to say, “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is the time that God is going to restore the Kingdom that He allowed to fall into ruin because of our sinfulness.”
Now here is the HARD NEWS
The answer is NO!!
This is NOT when the Lord is going to restore the Kingdom of Israel
Think about the Maccabees, Judas and Jonathan and Simon and all the brothers and all the other Jews who are fighting against the Greeks, Seleucids, and all these people
They now have a SOVEREIGN NATION
You can imagine them saying, “Ok, God, now this is how the next step goes. God, how the next step goes is that you raise up a descendant of David and put him on the throne. That’s the next thing. And then, we conquer even more fully the Greeks and even these Romans that were in alliance with us. We conquer them. And we keep conquering, because this is your Kingdom. And you promised an everlasting Dominion. You promised an everlasting Kingdom. You promised that through us, these people, you would bless the entire world. This is how it goes. This is the next step.”
Of course, as we know, THAT WAS NOT THE NEXT STEP
What we know is that the Romans come in and they are not friendly anymore to Israel
Israel does not get established as the world’s superpower that they saw themselves to be
What happens is that from this nation that had been seemingly abandoned, but was not abandoned
This nation that was weak, and was still love and preferred by God
From this nation, an UNLIKELY SAVIOR
From this nation, an UNLIKELY KING
THE KING OF KINGS WAS GOING TO ARISE
If you were one of the people living in this time, a couple hundred years before Jesus, you might have said, “Oh no no. The next step has to be that we have more and more political dominion. The next step has to be that we have more and more clout. The next step has to be this, whatever I have in my imagination.”
WE KNOW THAT WAS NOT THE NEXT STEP
The next step was MORE SUBJUGATION
And in the middle of that devastation, our Lord God was going to ENTER HIMSELF
NOT RAISE UP ANOTHER JUDAS
NOT RAISE UP ANOTHER JONATHAN
NOT RAISE UP ANOTHER ELIJAH
NOT RAISE UP ANOTHER DAVID
NOT RAISE UP ANOTHER SIMON
GOD IS GOING TO RAISE UP HIMSELF
HE WILL BECOME ONE OF US
NO ONE SAW THAT COMING!!
NO ONE SAW THAT COMING!!
WHICH IS JUST AMAZING!!
How many times in our lives do we say, “God, this is the next step you have to take!”
And God can say to us, “Nope. That’s not actually the next step I HAVE to take. The step I’m going to take is going to bring you more blessings than you can possibly imagine. But, it is NOT THE STEP YOU ANTICIPATE.”
So onward to Sirach
Once again it talks about being WISE
Not just being wise, but there is a piece there that isn’t just KNOWING A LOT
It is KNOWING HOW TO LIVE
Sirach 34:9-12, “An educated man knows many things, and one with much experience will speak with understanding. He that is inexperienced knows few things, but he that has traveled acquires much cleverness. I have seen many things in my travels, and I understand more than I can express. I have often been in danger of death, but have escaped because of these experiences.”
“No, I can do this because of the fact that I don’t just have a lot of data at my fingertips. I have a lot of wisdom, the PRACTICAL WISDOM, to do what is right in the moment that it is right to do the thing in.” (Thanks, Fr. Mike now my brain hurts 😉)
This is a VERY COMPLEX way to say that PRUDENCE is the ability to DO THE RIGHT THING AT THE RIGHT TIME IN THE RIGHT WAY
Sirach Ch 35 talks about WORSHIPING GOD
It talks about the sacrifice of a righteous person
Sirach 35:7-8, “The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable, and the memory of it will not be forgotten. Glorify the Lord generously, and do not stint the first fruits of your hand.”
DON’T SKIMP ON THE GIFT YOU GIVE TO THE LORD!!
Sirach 35:9, “With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness.”
THIS NEXT PART IS REALLY IMPORTANT!!
It gives us a very clear understanding of WHO GOD IS…
Sirach 35:10, “Give to the Most High as HE has given and as generously as your hand has found.”
GOD HAS GIVEN US EVERYTHING
SO GIVE TO THE MOST HIGH AS GENEROUSLY AS HE HAS GIVEN TO YOU
Sirach 35:11, “For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.”
This is the GOODNESS OF GOD
This injunction to WORSHIP THE LORD and GIVE TO HIM GENEROUSLY
Because GOD IS GOING TO REPAY
Sirach 35:12, “Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it…”
So here is God who says, “Yes, please give generously! I will give! I will bless you! But also, don’t give this as a bribe.”
How many times can we see that even a little bit in us?
“Ok God, I’m going to do this thing for you and then you give me the thing that I’m asking for.”
God says, “No no. Give FREELY. Give GENEROUSLY. I will bless you. But don’t give it as a bribe. Don’t give it because you think you can control me by your offering.”
MAN!! (OH MAN!!)
THAT IS IN EVERY ONE OF OUR HEARTS
THE BROKENNESS OF OUR HEARTS
In so many ways we think, “Ok gosh! I’m going to give you gifts. I’m going to give you my time, my life, my heart, my everything and you are going to bless me.”
How many times does that slip into “I am kind of a mercenary heart where I give it to the highest bidder.”
So God says, “Don’t. Avoid that. Be on guard against that bribery. Be on guard against that mercenary heart.”
SO WE ARE ON GUARD
WE NEED PRAYERS
Because that is part of our BROKENNESS
We have a lot more where that BROKENNESS came from
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. Thank you so much once again for a new day where you reveal your Word to us and help us to put it into practice, to love your Word, to love your Will, and to do it with everything we have. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”