Day 305: The Defender
2 Maccabees 8:1-36 As in the First Book of Maccabees, Judas is portrayed here as a holy, prayerful, courageous leader who placed his trust in God and exhibited concern for his people. His fidelity to the Lord was linked directly to his success. Even when collecting the spoils of war, he was careful to distribute the goods to the poor. The author viewed the deaths of those who had done violence to the Temple and sought the extermination of Judaism as just retribution. The brutal acts of war described here strongly contradict Christ’s teachings on charity and mercy. The Church’s teaching on just war views indiscriminate killing of noncombatants as gravely evil; even if a war is just, every aspect of waging that war must respect the principles of justice and the dignity of human life. (CCC 2307-2317)
Ch 8:10 Enslavement of human persons is a grave offense against human dignity. (CCC 2455)
Ch 8:18 True trust in God is constant even in adversity and incomprehensible tragedy. (CCC 227)
Wisdom 5:23 Those who have sinned knowingly and refuse repentance are liable to judgment. Christian theology teaches that, at the moment of death, a person will be judged according to his or her deeds. Moreover, this judgment, called the Particular Judgment, will determine whether a soul enters Heaven-either directly or after purification in Purgatory-or suffers punishment in Hell. At the end of time, everyone will undergo a Final Judgment, at which time the body and soul will be reunited for either eternal reward or punishment. The Jews of this period believed that souls went to Sheol after death, and it was to the abode of the dead that Christ descended after his Death in order to proclaim redemption to the righteous souls who awaited the Messiah. (CCC 633, 1038-1041)
Ch 6:1-11 Those in authority will be judged more stringently because of their responsibility for the common good and the impact their acts had on so many people. (CCC 2284-2286)
Ch 6:12-21 Wisdom-in Greek, Sophia-is personified in feminine terms. Divine wisdom is infinite, thus transcending gender, and God invites every person to share in his wisdom. While God’s wisdom is written on the human heart, an openness to and desire for that wisdom is an indispensable condition to acquire it. Those in authority have a special obligation to seek wisdom. (CCC 310)
Ch 6:22-25 This section initiates the second part of this book. Without using his name, the writer assumed the role of Solomon, the King of Israel upon whom God bestowed great wisdom.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
When the narrative about Judas and his companions resumes, the author states explicitly that “the Gentiles could not withstand him [Judas], for the wrath of the Lord had turned to mercy” (2 Mc 8:5).
It was precisely this mercy that the martyrs had prayed for when they surrendered their bodies to torture and death: “I, like my brothers, give up body and life for the laws of our fathers, appealing to God to show mercy soon to our nation” (2 Mc 7:37; emphasis added).
If the Maccabean Revolt was successful, 2 Maccabees informs us, it was successful because of the martyrs, who by their fidelity and sacrifice had caused the wrath of the Lord to turn to mercy.
There was a higher road to redeem the nation, and it was the path of martyrdom.
Although Mattathias and his sons did not choose it, 2 Maccabees shows a path of redemptive suffering in people like Eleazar and the mother and her sons, which transformed the destiny of Israel in a pivotal way and, ironically, gave the Maccabean Revolt its success.
In his own time, Jesus called his fellow countrymen to a similar martyrdom.
Faced with another pagan oppressor in the form of Rome, he issued this summons for revolution:
“Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.” (Mt 5:39-42).
In fact, for Jesus, the only way to the renewal of Israel lay in the act of embracing the supreme threat of Roman violence in his time—death by crucifixion.
Only when we keep in mind the trauma of the recent history in the Palestine of Jesus’ day—beginning with the Seleucid invasion and continuing in the Roman occupation—can we understand how strange this prophet’s words would have seemed to his own people:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Mt 5:43-47).
In a way, Jesus was saying nothing new.
He was merely drawing from the memory of his own people the feats of the martyrs, who turned the wrath of God into mercy by their sacrificial deaths.
Like them, Jesus, too, would face the pagan terror by offering himself on their greatest instrument of torture and death—the cross—and turning it into a symbol of redemption and victory.
The Roman Empire came and went, but its former capital stands today as a memorial to the victory of Jesus and his disciples, who took up their cross and unleashed on earth the mercy of God.
Not only do the martyrs during the time of the Maccabees foreshadow Christ’s own suffering, but they also foreshadow the courage and suffering of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It is not hard to imagine that during the events of Good Friday, Mary might have often recalled the noble spirit of the woman from 2 Maccabees 7, whose heart was broken having to watch the cruel torture and death suffered by her seven sons—but who was still able to encourage her sons to be faithful to God’s will and to hope in God’s ability to raise them from the dead.
Mary’s heart, pierced even deeper, fulfills even more perfectly this mother’s love, courage, and fidelity.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
After today, you have SIXTY DAYS…
WHAT A GIFT!!
Perhaps Fr. Mike has gushed a little bit too much in the last two days 🤔
What say you?
Two days ago we had Eleazar
Yesterday we had the seven brothers and their mom
Also, Wisdom Chs 3 and 4 WHICH JUST BLOW THE MIND
So maybe Fr. Mike gushed a little more than is appropriate and for some reason feels the need to apologize
I don’t see the issue, do you?
Apology NOT accepted because there is no need for one
BUT IT IS GOD’S WORD AND IT STRIKES OUR HEARTS POWERFULLY!!
We see how 2 Maccabees Ch 8 is the story we already heard in 1 Maccabees about Judas Maccabeus and his brothers rising up against the Gentiles
They fought for the honor of the Lord’s Temple
They fought for the ability to have freedom to keep the laws of God
In this telling, we have SO MUCH MORE of God’s ACTION
We have SO MUCH MORE of God’s PRESENCE
We don’t just have the facts and figures
WE HAVE THE MOTIVATION
We don’t just have a battle
WE HAVE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE BATTLE
For example, we have Judas Maccabeus who is coming up against a massively larger army
What does he do?
How does he get them inspired?
How does he get them to have clear eyes to have their eyes clear to realize WHAT they are doing and WHY they are doing it
He told them in 2 Maccabees 8:19, “Moreover, he told them of the times when help came to their ancestors; both the time of Sennacherib, when one hundred and eighty five thousand perished, and the time of the battle with the Galatians that took place in Babylonia…” (Remember Sennacherib and what happened with him? Go back and read Day 185: Hezekiah’s Prayer in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁)
It’s like saying, “God has fought for us in the past. He is fighting for us now. He is going to fight for us. Also, we have repented. Now, the sacrifices of those who were martyred.”
This has changed God’s stance from JUSTICE to MERCY
They are SEEING GOD as being PART OF THEIR LIVES RIGHT NOW
Isn’t it easy for us when we look back on our lives and say, “Oh Lord, you were there!”
Here are the people now, in REAL TIME at the moment saying, “God, this was visited upon us because of your justice. This was you loving us well and disciplining us, but not destroying us. Now, this is you being merciful to us because we have turned back to you.”
Sometimes it is very difficult for us as human beings to see God WORKING IN OUR LIVES
WHAT IS GOD REALLY DOING?
IS THIS GOD’S JUSTICE?
IS THIS JUST AN ACCIDENT OF EVIL?
IS THIS PART OF GOD’S MERCY?
To have the eyes that are LOOKING TO SEE and the eyes that are LOOKING TO UNDERSTAND…
THEY ARE ALWAYS THE EYES OF TRUST
Here’s what Fr. Mike means...
Sometimes we can say, “Gosh, I think I must have done something wrong to have to experience this pain.”
“Maybe I’m being corrected by the Lord himself.”
We don’t have any idea WHY
We’re just kind of guessing at this
So it’s kinda sometimes
A RISK to look at our lives and say, “Ok this is what God is doing.”
It is NOT A RISK to say, “God is PRESENT and ACTIVE.”
Hopefully that makes sense
We don’t always know, “Ok God, what are you doing right now in this moment?”
To be able to say, “God, I know that you’re here and that you’re doing SOMETHING.”
That is something we can really rest on
That is where that TRUST comes in of being able to say, “This is not you abandoning me, Lord. This is not you giving up on me. This is not being disqualified from your Word, or your promises. But, you are HERE and you are ACTIVE. You are PRESENT and you are DOING SOMETHING.”
IT IS SO SO INCREDIBLE!!
I LOVE THIS!!
At the end of 2 Maccabees Ch 8 we have the thrice accursed Nicanor who comes to a conclusion
2 Maccabees 8:36, “Thus he who had undertaken to secure tribute for the Romans by the capture of the people of Jerusalem proclaimed that the Jews had a Defender, and that therefore the Jews were invulnerable, because they followed the laws ordained by him.”
The Jews had a DEFENDER
Keep this in mind…
He is not referring to Judas Maccabeus being the DEFENDER
He is referring to GOD HIMSELF as being the DEFENDER
The reason we know this is because of the final line in that verse…(go back and read it 😉)
So NOT the laws ordained by Judas
The laws that are ordained by GOD HIMSELF
So maybe Fr. Mike is going to gush a little bit…
One last thing…
In Wisdom Ch 6…
The Wisdom of Solomon is just...WOW...THANK GOD FOR IT!!
Remember that ”the beginning of wisdom is FEAR OF THE LORD”
But there is also another offering or another idea that comes out of Wisdom of Solomon
Wisdom 6:17, “The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of her, and love of her is the keeping of her laws, and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality, and immortality brings one near to God; so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.”
I WANT TO LEARN!!
Which makes sense
I can’t be taught unless I’m WILLING TO BE TAUGHT
I’ll only be taught really well if I really WANT TO LEARN
This is really cool…
“Concern for instruction is love of her…”
So if I am interested in this, LOVE HER
And it builds on that
“And love of her is the keeping of her laws…”
This is really important too
We can SAY we want God’s truth
We can SAY we want God’s wisdom
We can SAY we can love God’s wisdom
If we don’t ACT like that
If we don’t LIVE like that
There is going to be corruption right here
We recognize that the WISE SEE CLEARLY because they LIVE CLEARLY
We recognize that the FOOLISH DON’T SEE CLEARLY because they LIVE FOOLISHLY
“And giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality and immortality brings one near to God. So the desire of wisdom leads to a kingdom.”
It goes from the DESIRE FOR WISDOM
To LOVE OF HER
To KEEPING OF HER LAWS
To ASSURANCE OF IMMORTALITY
To IMMORTALITY BRINGS ONE NEAR GOD
Therefore, the DESIRE FOR WISDOM LEADS TO A KINGDOM
That is one of those beautiful pieces where the wisdom of Scripture highlights to us…
“Ok if you want to be wise, here is your fool-proof 6-step plan for growing in wisdom.”
THE WORD OF GOD IS COOL!!
THE WORD OF GOD IS BEAUTIFUL!!
THE WORD OF GOD IS BRILLIANT!!
THE WORD OF GOD SETS OUR HEARTS ON FIRE
GOD I WANT TO BE A WISE PERSON
OUR WALK CAN BREAK DOWN IN ANY ONE OF THOSE PLACES
Maybe we don’t really DESIRE wisdom today
Maybe we don’t really LONG for wisdom
Maybe we aren’t willing to live that way
Maybe we find ourselves struggling to live
Maybe we find ourselves struggling in many different ways
Here we are TODAY asking the Lord to reveal his WORD to us
The fact that you PRESSED PLAY reveals something
It reveals that YOU HAVE A DESIRE FOR WISDOM
FR. MIKE HAS A DESIRE FOR WISDOM
WE HAVE A DESIRE FOR WISDOM
Part of what unites this community is NOT PERFECTION
That would not unite any of us
What unites this community...
WE HAVE A DESIRE FOR GOD’S WORD
WE HAVE A DESIRE TO KNOW GOD’S HEART
WE HAVE A DESIRE TO KNOW HIS HEART
WE HAVE A DESIRE TO KNOW HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES
That’s what makes this community unique and powerful
WE DESIRE HIM!!!
Think about this…🤔🧐
Every person listening to this podcast for 305 DAYS...
WE ALL DESIRE HIM
IF THAT IS NOT INCREDIBLE…
IF THAT IS NOT REMARKABLE…
IF THAT IS NOT EVEN A MIRACLE…
What can we say?
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
YOU NEED IT!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
HE NEEDS IT TOO!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
WE ALL NEED PRAYERS!!
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much for your Word today. We just lift up your name. And we ask you to please receive our word of praise, receive our word of prayer, receive our word of thanks, because you are God. And you are, just like you came to be known in the battles against the Gentiles in 2 Maccabees, you are our defender. Defend us today, Lord God, we ask you in Jesus’ name. Amen.”