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Day 303 – Eleazar’s Martyrdom


Thoughts and Reflection

Today we are reminded that punishments are not something that should bring us down but rather we should see it as discipline by our loving father. While God waits for other nations to reach the apex of their wickedness before he destroys them, he does not do this to his people of Israel. He comes to correct them, never to destroy them.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

2 Maccabees 6

1 Shortly afterwards, the king sent Gerontes the Athenian to force the Jews to violate their ancestral customs and live no longer by the laws of God;

2 and to profane the Temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus, and the one on Mount Gerizim to Zeus, Patron of Strangers, as the inhabitants of the latter place had requested.

3 The advent of these evils was painfully hard for all the people to bear.

4 The Temple was filled with revelling and debauchery by the gentiles, who took their pleasure with prostitutes and had intercourse with women in the sacred precincts, introducing other indecencies besides.

5 The altar of sacrifice was loaded with victims proscribed by the law as profane.

6 No one might either keep the Sabbath or observe the traditional feasts, or so much as admit to being a Jew.

7 People were driven by harsh compulsion to take part in the monthly ritual meal commemorating the king’s birthday; and when a feast of Dionysus occurred, they were forced to wear ivy wreaths and walk in the Dionysiac procession.

8 A decree was issued at the instance of the people of Ptolemais for the neighbouring Greek cities, enforcing the same conduct on the Jews there, obliging them to share in the sacrificial meals,

9 and ordering the execution of those who would not voluntarily conform to Greek customs. So it became clear that disaster was imminent.

10 For example, two women were charged with having circumcised their children. They were paraded publicly round the town, with their babies hung at their breasts, and then hurled over the city wall.

11 Other people, who had assembled in some near-by caves to keep the seventh day without attracting attention, were denounced to Philip, and were then all burnt to death together, since their consciences would not allow them to defend themselves, out of respect for the holiness of the day.

12 Now, I urge anyone who may read this book not to be dismayed at these calamities, but to reflect that such visitations are intended not to destroy our race but to discipline it.

13 Indeed, when evil-doers are not left for long to their own devices but incur swift retribution, it is a sign of great benevolence.

14 In the case of other nations, the Master waits patiently for them to attain the full measure of their sins before he punishes them, but with us he has decided to deal differently,

15 rather than have to punish us later, when our sins come to full measure.

16 And so he never entirely withdraws his mercy from us; he may discipline us by some disaster, but he does not desert his own people.

17 Let this be said simply by way of reminder; we must return to our story without more ado.

18 Eleazar, one of the foremost teachers of the Law, a man already advanced in years and of most noble appearance, had his mouth forced open, to make him eat a piece of pork.

19 But he, resolving to die with honour rather than to live disgraced, walked of his own accord to the torture of the wheel,

20 having spat the stuff out, as befits those with the courage to reject what is not lawful to taste, rather than live.

21 The people supervising the ritual meal, forbidden by the Law, because of the length of time for which they had known him, took him aside and privately urged him to have meat brought of a kind he could properly use, prepared by himself, and only pretend to eat the portions of sacrificial meat as prescribed by the king;

22 this action would enable him to escape death, by availing himself of an act of kindness prompted by their long friendship.

23 But having taken a noble decision worthy of his years and the dignity of his great age and the well-earned distinction of his grey hairs, worthy too of his impeccable conduct from boyhood, and above all of the holy legislation established by God himself, he answered accordingly, telling them to send him at once to Hades.

24 ‘Pretence’, he said, ‘does not befit our time of life; many young people would suppose that Eleazar at the age of ninety had conformed to the foreigners’ way of life

25 and, because I had played this part for the sake of a paltry brief spell of life, might themselves be led astray on my account; I should only bring defilement and disgrace on my old age.

26 Even though for the moment I avoid execution by man, I can never, living or dead, elude the grasp of the Almighty.

27 Therefore if I am man enough to quit this life here and now, I shall prove myself worthy of my old age,

28 and I shall have left the young a noble example of how to make a good death, eagerly and generously, for the venerable and holy laws.’ So saying, he walked straight to the wheel,

29 while those who were escorting him, recently so well disposed towards him, turned against him after this declaration, which they regarded as sheer madness.

30 He for his part, just before he died under the blows, gave a sigh and said, ‘The Lord whose knowledge is holy sees clearly that, though I might have escaped death, from awe of him I gladly endure these agonies of body under the lash, and that in my soul I am glad to suffer.’

31 This was how he died, leaving his death as an example of nobility and a record of virtue not only for the young but for the greater part of the nation.

Wisdom 1

1 Love uprightness you who are rulers on earth, be properly disposed towards the Lord and seek him in simplicity of heart;

2 for he will be found by those who do not put him to the test, revealing himself to those who do not mistrust him.

3 Perverse thoughts, however, separate people from God, and power, when put to the test, confounds the stupid.

4 Wisdom will never enter the soul of a wrong-doer, nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin;

5 for the holy spirit of instruction flees deceitfulness, recoils from unintelligent thoughts, is thwarted by the onset of vice.

6 Wisdom is a spirit friendly to humanity, though she will not let a blasphemer’s words go unpunished; since God observes the very souland accurately surveys the heart, listening to every word.

7 For the spirit of the Lord fills the world, and that which holds everything together knows every word said.

8 No one who speaks what is wrong will go undetected, nor will avenging Justice pass by such a one.

9 For the schemes of the godless will be examined, and a report of his words will reach the Lord to convict him of his crimes.

10 There is a jealous ear that overhears everything, not even a murmur of complaint escapes it.

11 So beware of uttering frivolous complaints, restrain your tongue from finding fault; even what is said in secret has repercussions, and a lying mouth deals death to the soul.

12 Do not court death by the errors of your ways, nor invite destruction through the work of your hands.

13 For God did not make Death, he takes no pleasure in destroying the living.

14 To exist — for this he created all things; the creatures of the world have health in them, in them is no fatal poison, and Hades has no power over the world:

15 for uprightness is immortal.

16 But the godless call for Death with deed and word, counting him friend, they wear themselves out for him; with him they make a pact, worthy as they are to belong to him.

Wisdom 2

1 And this is the false argument they use, ‘Our life is short and dreary, there is no remedy when our end comes, no one is known to have come back from Hades.

2 We came into being by chance and afterwards shall be as though we had never been. The breath in our nostrils is a puff of smoke, reason a spark from the beating of our hearts;

3 extinguish this and the body turns to ashes, and the spirit melts away like the yielding air.

4 In time, our name will be forgotten, nobody will remember what we have done; our life will pass away like wisps of cloud, dissolving like the mist that the sun’s rays drive away and that its heat dispels.

5 For our days are the passing of a shadow, our end is without return, the seal is affixed and nobody comes back.

6 ‘Come then, let us enjoy the good things of today, let us use created things with the zest of youth:

7 take our fill of the dearest wines and perfumes, on no account forgo the flowers of spring

8 but crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither,

9 no meadow excluded from our orgy; let us leave the signs of our revelry everywhere, since this is our portion, this our lot!

10 ‘As for the upright man who is poor, let us oppress him; let us not spare the widow, nor respect old age, white-haired with many years.

11 Let our might be the yardstick of right, since weakness argues its own futility.

12 Let us lay traps for the upright man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our sins against the Law, and accuses us of sins against our upbringing.

13 He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.

14 We see him as a reproof to our way of thinking, the very sight of him weighs our spirits down;

15 for his kind of life is not like other people’s, and his ways are quite different.

16 In his opinion we are counterfeit; he avoids our ways as he would filth; he proclaims the final end of the upright as blessed and boasts of having God for his father.

17 Let us see if what he says is true, and test him to see what sort of end he will have.

18 For if the upright man is God’s son, God will help him and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.

19 Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his patience to the test.

20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death since God will rescue him — or so he claims.’

21 This is the way they reason, but they are misled, since their malice makes them blind.

22 They do not know the hidden things of God, they do not hope for the reward of holiness, they do not believe in a reward for blameless souls.

23 For God created human beings to be immortal, he made them as an image of his own nature;

24 Death came into the world only through the Devil’s envy, as those who belong to him find to their cost.

Proverbs 24:21-26

21 Fear Yahweh, my child, and fear the king; do not ally yourself with innovators;

22 for suddenly disaster will loom for them, and who knows what ruin will seize them and their friends?

23 The following are also taken from the sages: To show partiality in judgement is not good.

24 Whoever tells the wicked, ‘You are upright,’ peoples curse him, nations revile him;

25 but those who correct him, come out of it well, on them will come a happy blessing.

26 Whoever returns an honest answer, plants a kiss on the lips.


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