Day 307: courage in battle

2 Maccabees 10:1-8 The reclamation and purification of the Temple were major events that gave rise to the Feast of the Dedication. The reestablishment of the proper worship of God was proof of his protection over his people and his fidelity to his covenants. The Second Temple, however, was a mere shadow of the glorious Temple of Solomon, and this Temple, too, was destroyed centuries later by the Roman army in AD 70 and was replaced by a definitive Temple; instead of a building and sacred artifacts representing the presence of God, the New Temple is Christ himself. Since Christ took on our human nature and joined it to his own divine nature without confusing or mixing the two, we have direct and full access to God.

Ch 10:9-38 The death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes did little to benefit the Jews, and the official policies and treatment of the Jews remained terrible. The author reordered the events to emphasize the role of the Maccabean military victories in securing freedom for Israel and the purification of the Temple. 

Wisdom 9:1-11 Reflecting on this passage, which is prayed in the Liturgy of the Hours, St. John Paul II said that it is “easy to intuit that this ‘wisdom’ is not mere intelligence or practical ability, but rather a participation in the very mind of God who ‘with his wisdom [has] established man.’...Thus it is the ability to penetrate the deep meaning of being, of life, and of history, going beyond the surface of things and events to discover their ultimate meaning, willed by the Lord. “He also called wisdom” a lamp that enlightens the moral choices of daily life and leads us on the straight path,” which allows us to “go forward confidently in the world” (General Audience, January 29, 2003)

Ch 9:2-3 In granting human beings dominion over the earth, God asks us to help bring about its completion and perfection through the rich array and diversity of human work. (CSDC 326)

Ch 9:9 God in his infinite wisdom and bountiful goodness created the universe. God created the world freely and out of love for men and women in order to share his goodness to make them participants in his creative power and everlasting life. (CCC 295)

Ch 9:13-16 Wisdom cannot be acquired by human effort alone; it requires a humble docility to perceive and act on God’s will. With the proper disposition of humility and obedience, God transmits his wisdom to those who pursue it. The truths of faith-coupled with a habitual effort to penetrate revealed truth-enhance the gift of wisdom. (CCC 299, 339, 369, 1954)

Ch 9:15 Greek philosophers who followed Platonic thought believed that the soul preexisted the body and that, during one’s life, the body was a mere physical shell for the soul. Rather than supporting this idea, these verses teach that the passions and appetites, if not controlled, can militate against the life of the spirit (cf. Rom 7:14-25). Paul taught that lustful and intemperate behavior is incompatible with a spiritual life. (CCC 365, 382, 990)

Ch 9:17-18 God the Son, the divine Word, took on a human nature with no detriment to his divinity in order to redeem the human race. The illustrious Church Father St. Athanasius stated: “In former times, the Wisdom of God stamped his seal on all created things-and the presence of his sign is the reason why we call them ‘created’-to reveal himself and make his Father known. But later, this same Wisdom, who is the Word, was made flesh, as John says, and having overcome death and saved the human race, he revealed himself in a clearer way and through himself, revealed the Father” (Contra Ariano, 2, 81-82). (CCC 457-460)

Ch 10:1-21 The author provided a concise summary of how wisdom had operated throughout Jewish history.

Ch 10:1-4 According to one ancient tradition, Adam and Eve repented of their sins after the Fall and went on to lead virtuous lives. Because of his parents’ Fall from grace, Cain was born with Original Sin, which led him to murder and flee from home. The sinful conduct of Cain was a poignant sign that sin had entered the world. The reference to the Flood is clearly about Noah, who was saved by his fidelity to God’s will, which is intimately linked to wisdom. 

Ch 10:5 The first part of the fifth verse is a reference to the Tower of Babel, in which God halted the plans to build a tower so tall that it could touch heaven-essentially, a monument to the power and godlike qualities of the human person with no reference to God. To prevent this self-aggrandizement, God confused their tongues, as it were, causing them to speak in languages unknown to each other (Gn 11:1-9). Thereafter, the Tower of Babel became a metaphor for the vainglory of humanity and the idolatry of paganism, which usurped rightful worship and homage to the one true God.

The righteous man...for his child: This refers to Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his only son in obedience to God. (CCC 57)

Ch 10:6-9 The “righteous man” is Lot, who with his family was spared from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s wife was turned into a “pillar of salt” as punishment for failing to heed the angel’s instruction not to look back at the city being destroyed (cf. Gn19).

Ch 10:10-14 In the era of the patriarchs, divine wisdom was credited for having helped and protected Jacob, who “fled his brother’s wrath” after he tricked Esau out of his birthright. The same applied to Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers but later became a high official of the Pharaoh. The wisdom of God also saved the people of Israel from their enslavement in Egypt. 

Proverbs 25:6-7 This proverb was strongly emphasized in Christ’s teaching on humility. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. 

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you, God, for your goodness and thank you for this day. Thank you for a new day. And we know that with every new day, your mercies are new as well. Your love for us is constant. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. And we praise you. Help us to live this day as yours. Help us to live this day as sons and daughters. Help us to live this day belonging to you and doing your will, because you continue to shape the way that we see who you are and the way we see who you made us to be and who you are calling us to be to our brothers and sisters. Help us to love you above everything and to love our neighbors as ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”