Day 310: Rivals for the Heart

2 Maccabees 13:1-26 As Antiochus Eupator and Lysias prepared to attack Jerusalem, the true character of Menelaus was finally revealed, and consequently he was executed by the king. Judas had great concern that those recently returned to the true practice of the Jewish traditions might regress to their pagan practices if the city were to fall. Supported by the prayers of his faithful fellow Jews. he engaged the approaching Syrians and beat them back. Upon learning of a revolt in Antioch, the king and Lysias negotiated a generous peace and retreated. Again, the power of God and the prayerful trust in him saved the Jews from defeat. 

Wisdom 15:1-6 The author knows that God’s love for his people is unconditional; even when Israel sinned or fell into idolatry, God was always ready to forgive and to restore the covenant with them. God’s permanent fidelity even in the face of their infidelity helped move the people to repentance. 

Ch 15:5 A chaste mind and heart is an indispensable disposition to be identified with God’s will and hence to have an intimate friendship with him. In addition to the grace of God, an individual must habitually struggle to banish the first sparks of impurity in mind or desire. Every sin involves consent of the will; therefore, as long as there is resistance of the will to impure thoughts and desires, personal sin is either nonexistent or mitigated. (CCC 2520)

Ch 15:10-19 The author made light again of the lifeless and worthless idols formed out of clay.

Ch 16:1-29 The final four chapters of this book contrast the punishments in the form of plagues heaped upon the Egyptians with God’s kind and merciful treatment of his  Chosen People. Egypt, however, is never named in these chapters, which lends evidence to the possibility that this book was written or compiled in Alexandria under Egyptian rule. These accounts also go beyond the events narrated in Exodus in order to draw lessons that are valid for all times and places. These brief commentaries on historical events demonstrate how God’s wisdom, as expressed both in his justice and in his mercy, ultimately prevails.

Ch 16:1-4 Thou didst provide quails to eat: This refers to the miraculous appearance of quail during the Israelites’ sojourn in the desert after complaining of having nothing to eat but manna day after day (cf. Nm 11:10-32)

Ch 16:5-14 This is an allusion to the plagues of locusts in Egypt and the serpents that attacked the Israelites in the desert. On the latter occasion, God had Moses make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so those who gazed upon it might be healed. The bronze serpent was not an idol; rather, it was a symbol of salvation. The fact that it was “lifted up” in order to save the people makes it a type of the Crucifixion of Christ (TYPOLOGY!!). (CCC 2130)

Ch 16:15-29 The inspired author juxtaposes particular plagues suffered by the Egyptians with corresponding miracles that benefited the Israelites. Hail rained down upon the Egyptians, resulting in destruction and death, whereas manna rained down upon the fleeing Israelites, providing them with life-giving nutrition. 

(*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 this day. Thank you for constantly bringing us back again and again that you might remind us that you not only love us, not only that you are interested in us, but in the most mysterious way you have a destiny for us. You have a destination you want us to reach that you have in some ways we can maybe say a plan. That plan, that hope, that desire, that will that you have for us is that we live forever with you, that we live this life with you and that we live forever with you. Help us to say yes to your will today. Help us to say yes to this destiny for our Eternity. And we make this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”