Day 301: Rising Again

2 Maccabees 4:1-22 Jason bribed the king to take the office of high priest from his brother Onias. Unlike Onias, Jason was not conscientious in upholding the Jewish Law, and, under his command, the priests neglected to make the proper sacrifices. Jason was also an advocate for Hellenization, endorsing the king’s agenda to force Greek culture and religion upon the Jews as a means to unify the kingdom. Jason’s construction of a Greek gymnasium adjacent to the Temple was a calculated move to draw the Jews, particularly the young, away from the Temple and into the spectacle of athletics; for the Greeks the gymnasium served as a place not only for physical conditioning and sporting events but also for mentoring and educating young boys. The required attendance of the Jewish youth conflicted with the study of the Jewish faith, and the opportunities for formation in the Law and the Commandments.

Ch 4:5-6 Onias acted on behalf of the common good, which ought to be the primary concern of every government official as well as for every citizen. (CCC 1905-1912)

Ch 4:16-17 The governance of every institution and society must have as its guiding light the principle of natural law, which reflects the eternal wisdom of God. Neglect of moral law leads to infringements of the rights and freedom of the individuals composing society. (CCC 2244)

Ch 4:18 Quadrennial games: The Greeks introduced these international competitions to their neighbors. These competitions would be revived in the late nineteenth century as the Olympic games. 

Ch 4:20 Triremes: These warships, which featured sails and three rows of oarsmen on each side, were in common use at the time.

Ch 4:23-29 As seen earlier with Jason’s ascendancy, the office of the high priest required appointment by the king at that time and was determined not by moral integrity or hereditary but by the subjective preference of a pagan king. It was a powerful office that exercised a large degree of civil authority in carrying out the king’s wishes. Menelaus won a bidding war with Jason and succeeded him as high priest. 

Ch 4:30-38 Menelaus made a profit for himself by selling the precious Temple vessels to pagans. He gave some to Andronicus, one of the king’s officials, as leverage to have Onias killed. Paradoxically, King Antiochus had such a high regard for Onias that he executed Andronicus instead. The author saw this execution as a show of divine justice.

Ch 4:39-50 God is always just but acts according to his inscrutable ways. God’s justice will always prevail and, in spite of the difficulties, will eventually yield an abundance of good. (CCC 1040, 2091)

Sirach 48:1 Fire is used often in Scripture to symbolize the action of the Holy Spirit. Recall in particular how John the Baptist associated Baptism “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Lk 3:16) and how the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in the form of “tongues as of fire” (cf. Acts 2:3-4). (CCC 696)

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you so much. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for your action and your presence in our lives and in every single day, every moment, gosh Lord, you hold us in being. You hold us in existence and not only do you hold us in existence, but you hold us in your arms and you hold us close to you. Please help us not squirm away, help us not wiggle out of your grasp. But help us always to find ourselves placed firmly in your will, firmly in your heart in everything. Let your Grace be upon us, because Lord God, left to ourselves we can do nothing. But we do all things by your Grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”