Day 298: The Gift of Life

The Second Book of Maccabees

Author and Date:


Main Themes:

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

2 Maccabees 1-15 This book offers a strongly religious and moral perspective on the events covered in the first seven chapters of the First Book of Maccabees. Both books take liberties with the order of events to accentuate particular points desired by the author.

Ch 1:1-9 The first two chapters of this book form a foreword and a preface. The first section is a letter from the Jews in Jerusalem to the Jewish community in Egypt, urging them to observe the Law faithfully, especially the feast of the Dedication of the Temple, which commemorated the return of true worship in Jerusalem following the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus in 164 BC. The dispersed Jews were invited to remain in solidarity with those of their homeland through prayer for one another and fidelity to the Law and the Commandments. The letter is dated 124 BC, more than fifteen years after the establishment of Israel’s independence. 

Ch 1:10-36 Immediately following the first letter is an earlier letter in which Judas Maccabeus addressed the people of Judea. Judas, who led the Maccabean revolt after the death of his father, expressed thanks to God for his goodness, power, and mercy and explained how God manifested his approval of their sacrifices in the Temple through a miraculous fire; many biblical scholars understand this fire to be a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Judas urged uniform observance of this feast. 

Sirach 40:1-12 In his reflection on the presence of evil, St. John Paul II taught that moral evil “stems not from any material deficiency, but is a wound inflicted by the disordered exercise of human freedom” (Fides et Ratio, 80).

Ch 40:12-16 Though the reality of evil can seem overwhelming, the goodness of God will ultimately prevail over the forces of evil. (CCC 681)

Ch 40:17-30 This series of contrasts show the superiority of wisdom over all other gifts and blessings. (CCC 2500)

Ch 41:1-4 In the first section of this chapter, death is presented as an inevitable hardship, although for some it is a true blessing. Those who put their hearts on earthly goods will be left empty at the moment of death. On the other hand, those who follow the will of God as the true good build up an everlasting treasure. 

Ch 41:5-14 The second section of this chapter warns of the terrible fate of unrepentant sinners. 

Ch 41:15-23 The third section of this chapter serves as an examination of conscience, indicating actions that should elicit shame and contrition. 

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

Act 2: An Alternative to Violence 


(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. You keep calling us, gosh every day Lord, you keep calling us to wisdom. You keep calling us to see things as clearly as possible and to choose them as firmly as possible. Help us to walk in your Will and walk in the light of your Truth. Help us to number our days aright that we may gain wisdom of heart. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.”