Day 309: Praying for the Dead

2 Maccabees 12:1-37 Not everyone was happy with the return of proper worship to the Temple and Rome’s new policy toward Israel. Some of the neighboring Gentiles and Syrian military leaders embarked on a wave of persecution against the Jews. Judas, however, exacted revenge on the offending parties; pursuing the Syrian general Timothy, Judas razed those Gentile towns along the way whose hatred and blasphemy against the Jews was evident. As before, Judas relied on the strength of God, turned to him in prayer, and was consequently victorious. 

Ch 12:38-45 This is the most explicit evidence in the Old Testament for the existence of Purgatory, a state of purification for those who have died in faith but require temporal punishment for their sins and imperfections. Judas recognized that the men who died were carrying idols and thereby concluded the reason for their deaths. Judas, therefore, believed that the prayers and sacrifices of the living could help atone for the sins of the deceased so that they might be resurrected to new life. This passage also confirms the Communion of Saints, which exists among the members of the Church in Heaven, in Purgatory, and on earth. God responds to penance and charity offered in reparation for the sins of others with graces for conversion. Indulgences as well as prayers and sacrifices for the repose of the souls of the deceased are a wonderful expression of the Spiritual Works of Mercy for those in need of purification. (CCC 958, 1032, 1055)

Wisdom 13:1 This chapter begins with an elaboration of idolatry, the belief in or worship of false gods, which is a grave offense against the First Commandment. Belief in God is a basic tenet of natural law as well as the bedrock of the Christian Faith. The divine teachings of Christ reveal that there are three Persons in one God. God communicates through his creation, through his prophets, and ultimately through the Incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ. (CCC 1147, 2112)

Ch 13:1-9 The rich variety of created beings points to an All-powerful and All-knowing Creator. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that we can know God by the light of natural reason simply by observing the harmony and order of creation. Moreover, through philosophical analysis of the created world, one can arrive at the notion of a prime mover and an uncaused cause. (CCC 31-35, 40-41, 216, 2500)

Ch 13:3 The human being resembles God in a finite manner because he is made in the image and likeness of God and, thus, reflects the divine nature. God, however, infinitely transcends all created things. Nevertheless, God’s transcendental perfection of beauty, goodness, and truth can be perceived by analogy by means of contemplating God’s work of creation. (CCC 41, 2129, 2500)

Ch 13:10-19 In stark contrast to the living God of Israel, the pagan people worshiped idols shaped by human hands.

Ch 14:1-31 Continuing the theme of the previous chapter, these idols would be used as the figureheads for ships as an assurance of safety. The inspired author reiterates that these manufactured artifacts are powerless and that true power rests in the one true God of the people of Israel. Worshiping idols is forbidden by the First Commandment. (CCC 2112-2114)

Ch 14:7 This verse has long been interpreted in Christian tradition in light of the Crucifixion of Christ on the wood of the Cross. During the liturgical celebration on Friday of Holy Week (Good Friday), as a cross is carried through the church and elevated, this refrain is proclaimed three times: “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.”

Ch 14:12 Sexual sins are linked to idolatry since lustful passions become ends in themselves and are seen consequently as the source of happiness. When human sexuality is separated from the expression of total self-gift within marriage, then the pursuit of lustful pleasure becomes a form of idolatry. Scripture often speaks of the idolatrous acts of Israel as infidelity, the same term is applied to the act of adultery. (CCC 2534)

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and thank you so much for this day and thank you so much for bringing us to this new day, Day 309. We thank you for keeping us faithful. You are faithful, even when we are not. Even when we are fickle, you are faithful. Even when we’re uncertain, you are the Rock, the Foundation. You are Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone. And so in your name we ask that you please help us in our weakness, help us in our unsteadiness, help us in every day to see you, the One True God, Jesus Christ whom you sent, and the Holy Spirit to live by your Power. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”