Day 302: The Pursuit of Wisdom

2 Maccabees 5:1-27 Their sins caused Israel to suffer defeat. Attacks were calculated to occur on the Sabbath, when any activity, including self defense, was prohibited; this passivity on the Sabbath contributed to the slaughter of the Jews. It is ironic that the Jews would observe the Sabbath rest so strictly on a day when they were transgressing the Commandments of the Law in so many other significant ways. (CCC 2172)

Sirach 50:1-29 Simon, a leader in the movement to restore proper worship among the Jews, was the high priest in Jerusalem around the turn of the second century BC. He undertook a massive project for repairing the Temple and fostered a strong sense of the sacred to its rituals and ceremonies.

Ch 50:20-21 Described here is part of the Temple ritual for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement observed by Jews since ancient times. In the days of the Temple, Yom Kippur was the one day each year on which the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctuary of the Temple where the Ark of the Covenant with its mercy seat and other sacred items were reserved. The high priest would conduct a lengthy ritual of blood sacrifice of animals, bread, and wine to atone for his sins and the sins of all the people. When he was finished with the sacrificial ceremony, he would go out to the congregation and announce that God had reconciled his people to himself. (CCC 433)

Ch 51:1-30 The author closes with a hymn of thanksgiving and a poem extolling the search for wisdom.

Proverbs 24:19-20 The twenty-ninth maxim, which is apocalyptic in nature, points to the reality of evil in the world and how it has an impact on everyone. The Good News of the Gospel is that Christ has definitively conquered lust and sin through his redemption. (CCC 410, 677, 1505, 2583, 2864)

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

  • We are going to get to that word in just one second

  • Actually, let’s start here

  • In 2 Maccabees Ch 5 we have heard this story, but from a different perspective

  • We heard the story of Jason rising to power

  • We heard the story of Jason falling from power

  • We also have Antiochus existing

  • But beginning with 2 Maccabees 5:15 we have the Pillage of the Temple

  • It’s so interesting how the perspective in 1 Maccabees of the pillaging of the Temple is described

  • As compared to here in 2 Maccabees how the pillaging of the Temple is described

  • In this 2 Maccabees description it is AWFUL and HORRIBLE

  • AND YET…

  • At the same time, there is this sense of GOD IS INVOLVED IN THIS

  • Remember earlier in the Old Testament when the people of God experienced pain, exile, loss, destruction, and suffering

  • They said, “Yes, this is because we were unfaithful. And so this is the Lord God loving us. This is the Lord God teaching us. This is the Lord God bringing us back.”

  • So we have this again in 2 Maccabees Ch 5

  • The people of Israel are saying, “Yes, the reason why this happened is because we have been faithless, because we have done wrong. But not only is that just then, what’s happening to us is limited. It’s not only happening because God is just and he needs to bring us back to himself. But this is also limited. This will not be how it ends.”

  • Think about this


  • At the end here, kind of the Jewish period, and before we launch into the FULFILLMENT OF JUDAISM which is CHRISTIANITY, here are the people of Israel, the Chosen People of God saying, “We’ve learned. We get it. Not only is this punishment upon us just, but this punishment upon us is finite. It is oriented towards bringing us back. When we come back, then the Lord will restore everything.”


  • Then we get introduced, at the end of 2 Maccabees Ch 5, we meet Judas Maccabeus and the nine others who will run away

  • We are going to see Judas battling and all the other fighting for the independence of Israel and for the glory and holiness of the Temple

  • BUT…

  • For the next couple of days we will see the WITNESS OF THE JEWISH MARTYRS




  • So come back, and read with us for the next couple of days WHICH IS A GIFT

  • We have now completed The Book of Sirach

  • Hopefully it was filled with enlightenment and that sense of wisdom

  • If nothing else, and you can't remember a single thing from the Book of Sirach, remember this…


  • We will learn more about this as we start The Book of Wisdom

  • The pursuit of wisdom is not the MAIN goal of life

  • Obviously THE GOAL is the pursuit of the Lord himself, having communion with God himself

  • BUT…

  • The pursuit of wisdom being the way that we are called to live and belong to God is the ECHO OF THE ENTIRE BOOK OF SIRACH AS WELL AS THE BOOK OF WISDOM

  • The Book of Wisdom is also marked not just by living wisely when dealing with other people

  • But also when it comes to DEALING WITH THE LORD


  • So how do we become wise when it comes to getting rid of idols and turning towards the TRUE AND LIVING GOD

  • Last thing in Proverbs 24:17-18, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.”

  • It’s so interesting

  • Why would God in his Word include that for us?

  • The answer is kind of obvious

  • We have a tendency to rejoice when our enemies fall

  • It’s a German word called schadenfreude

  • The pleasure we take when we see other people get hurt, go in disgrace, or our enemies fall

  • There is a BROKENNESS in our hearts that of course, we want JUSTICE


  • BUT…

  • What is it that takes JOY in someone else’s PAIN?

  • Is this brokenness in our hearts?

  • Is it schadenfreude?

  • Schadenfreude is prohibited in Proverbs 24:17-18

  • So our prayer is not only to be wise and to know when to be faithful, to know when to stand strong, to know when to flee, know when to fight, know when to witness…

  • BUT…

  • This call to say, “Ok, Lord, in my heart there are these broken parts and broken pieces that I rejoice, definitely, when my friends, the people I love succeed. But also, gosh Lord, there is this thing in me that rejoices when my enemies fail, when the people that I am annoyed by experience some kind of fall. I don’t want that to be there. So Lord, heal it.”

  • There is SO MUCH HEALING that God offers

  • There is SO MUCH HEALING that we need




Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you so much. Thank you for your Word today. Thank you for your Grace today. Thank you for your self today. God, as you continue to walk with us through this story of the people of Israel, during this time of this oppression and this time of battle, this time of witness and this time of warring, we ask that you please help us to know when to fight. Help us to know when to flee. Help us to know not just when you’re calling us to be faithful. You are always calling us to be faithful. Help us to know how to be faithful. Are we faithful in fighting? Are we faithful in fleeing? Are we faithful in warring? Are we faithful in witnessing? No matter what you call us to, God, we ask that you please help us to be faithful. You are faithful. You are true. Help us to be like you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”