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Day 304 – Life Beyond Death


Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read about faithfulness. In Maccabees, we read about a mother and her seven sons. The mom and her sons obey the law of the Lord and are put to death. They die with confidence knowing that their death in this life is not the end. This is not our ultimate home.

Personally, this is a hard reading to start the day on. I am not sure what I would have done if I were in this family’s position. Their faith was strong.

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 7

1 It also happened that seven brothers were arrested with their mother. The king tried to force them to taste some pork, which the Law forbids, by torturing them with whips and scourges.

2 One of them, acting as spokesman for the others, said, ‘What are you trying to find out from us? We are prepared to die rather than break the laws of our ancestors.’

3 The king, in a fury, ordered pans and cauldrons to be heated over a fire.

4 As soon as these were red-hot, he commanded that their spokesman should have his tongue cut out, his head scalped and his extremities cut off, while the other brothers and his mother looked on.

5 When he had been rendered completely helpless, the king gave orders for him to be brought, still breathing, to the fire and fried alive in a pan. As the smoke from the pan drifted about, his mother and the rest encouraged one another to die nobly, with such words as these,

6 ‘The Lord God is watching and certainly feels sorry for us, as Moses declared in his song, which clearly states that “he will take pity on his servants.” ‘

7 When the first had left the world in this way, they brought the second forward to be tortured. After stripping the skin from his head, hair and all, they asked him, ‘Will you eat some pork, before your body is tortured limb by limb?’

8 Replying in his ancestral tongue, he said, ‘No!’ So he too was put to the torture in his turn.

9 With his last breath he exclaimed, ‘Cruel brute, you may discharge us from this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up, since we die for his laws, to live again forever.’

10 After him, they tortured the third, who on being asked for his tongue promptly thrust it out and boldly held out his hands,

11 courageously saying, ‘Heaven gave me these limbs; for the sake of his laws I have no concern for them; from him I hope to receive them again.’

12 The king and his attendants were astounded at the young man’s courage and his utter indifference to suffering.

13 When this one was dead they subjected the fourth to the same torments and tortures.

14 When he neared his end he cried, ‘Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men’s hands, yet relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by him; whereas for you there can be no resurrection to new life.’

15 Next they brought forward the fifth and began torturing him.

16 But he looked at the king and said, ‘You have power over human beings, mortal as you are, and can act as you please. But do not think that our race has been deserted by God.

17 Only wait, and you will see in your turn how his mighty power will torment you and your descendants.’

18 After him, they led out the sixth, and his dying words were these, ‘Do not delude yourself: we are suffering like this through our own fault, having sinned against our own God; hence, appalling things have befallen us-

19 but do not think you yourself will go unpunished for attempting to make war on God.’

20 But the mother was especially admirable and worthy of honourable remembrance, for she watched the death of seven sons in the course of a single day, and bravely endured it because of her hopes in the Lord.

21 Indeed she encouraged each of them in their ancestral tongue; filled with noble conviction, she reinforced her womanly argument with manly courage, saying to them,

22 ‘I do not know how you appeared in my womb; it was not I who endowed you with breath and life, I had not the shaping of your every part.

23 And hence, the Creator of the world, who made everyone and ordained the origin of all things, will in his mercy give you back breath and life, since for the sake of his laws you have no concern for yourselves.’

24 Antiochus thought he was being ridiculed, suspecting insult in the tone of her voice; and as the youngest was still alive he appealed to him not with mere words but with promises on oath to make him both rich and happy if he would abandon the traditions of his ancestors; he would make him his Friend and entrust him with public office.

25 The young man took no notice at all, and so the king then appealed to the mother, urging her to advise the youth to save his life.

26 After a great deal of urging on his part she agreed to try persuasion on her son.

27 Bending over him, she fooled the cruel tyrant with these words, uttered in their ancestral tongue, ‘My son, have pity on me; I carried you nine months in my womb and suckled you three years, fed you and reared you to the age you are now, and provided for you.

28 I implore you, my child, look at the earth and sky and everything in them, and consider how God made them out of what did not exist, and that human beings come into being in the same way.

29 Do not fear this executioner, but prove yourself worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that I may receive you back with them in the day of mercy.’

30 She had hardly finished, when the young man said, ‘What are you all waiting for? I will not comply with the king’s ordinance; I obey the ordinance of the Law given to our ancestors through Moses.

31 As for you, who have contrived every kind of evil against the Hebrews, you will certainly not escape the hands of God.

32 We are suffering for our own sins;

33 and if, to punish and discipline us, our living Lord is briefly angry with us, he will be reconciled with us in due course.

34 But you, unholy wretch and wickedest of villains, what cause have you for pride, nourishing vain hopes and raising your hand against his servants? –

35 for you have not yet escaped the judgement of God the almighty, the all-seeing.

36 Our brothers, having endured brief pain, for the sake of ever-flowing life have died for the covenant of God, while you, by God’s judgement, will have to pay the just penalty for your arrogance.

37 I too, like my brothers, surrender my body and life for the laws of my ancestors, begging God quickly to take pity on our nation, and by trials and afflictions to bring you to confess that he alone is God,

38 so that with my brothers and myself there may be an end to the wrath of the Almighty, rightly let loose on our whole nation.’

39 The king fell into a rage and treated this one more cruelly than the others, for he was himself smarting from the young man’s scorn.

40 And so the last brother met his end undefiled and with perfect trust in the Lord.

41 The mother was the last to die, after her sons.

42 But let this be sufficient account of the ritual meals and monstrous tortures.

Wisdom 3

1 But the souls of the upright are in the hands of God, and no torment can touch them.

2 To the unenlightened, they appeared to die, their departure was regarded as disaster,

3 their leaving us like annihilation; but they are at peace.

4 If, as it seemed to us, they suffered punishment, their hope was rich with immortality;

5 slight was their correction, great will their blessings be. God was putting them to the test and has proved them worthy to be with him;

6 he has tested them like gold in a furnace, and accepted them as a perfect burnt offering.

7 At their time of visitation, they will shine out; as sparks run through the stubble, so will they.

8 They will judge nations, rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king for ever.

9 Those who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love; for grace and mercy await his holy ones, and he intervenes on behalf of his chosen.

10 But the godless will be duly punished for their reasoning, for having neglected the upright and deserted the Lord.

11 Yes, wretched are they who scorn wisdom and discipline: their hope is void, their toil unavailing, their achievements unprofitable;

12 their wives are reckless, their children depraved, their descendants accursed.

13 Blessed the sterile woman if she be blameless, and has not known an unlawful bed, for she will have fruit at the visitation of souls.

14 Blessed, too, the eunuch whose hand commits no crime, and who harbours no resentment against the Lord: a special favour will be granted to him for his loyalty, a most desirable portion in the temple of the Lord.

15 For the fruit of honest labours is glorious, and the root of understanding does not decay.

16 But the children of adulterers will not reach maturity, the offspring of an unlawful bed will disappear.

17 Even if they live long, they will count for nothing, their old age will go unhonoured at the last;

18 while if they die early, they have neither hope nor comfort on the day of judgement,

19 for the end of a race of evil-doers is harsh.

Wisdom 4

1 Better to have no children yet to have virtue, since immortality perpetuates its memory; for God and human beings both recognise it.

2 Present, we imitate it, absent, we long for it; crowned, it holds triumph through eternity, having striven for untainted prizes and emerged the victor.

3 But the offspring of the godless come to nothing, however prolific, sprung from a bastard stock, they will never strike deep roots, never put down firm foundations.

4 They may branch out for a time, but, on unsteady foundations, they will be rocked by the wind and uprooted by the force of the storm;

5 their branches, yet unformed, will be snapped off, their fruit be useless, too unripe to eat, fit for nothing.

6 For children begotten of unlawful bed witness, when put on trial, to their parents’ wickedness.

7 The upright, though he die before his time, will find rest.

8 Length of days is not what makes age honourable, nor number of years the true measure of life;

9 understanding, this is grey hairs, untarnished life, this is ripe old age.

10 Having won God’s favour, he has been loved and, as he was living among sinners, has been taken away.

11 He has been carried off so that evil may not warp his understanding or deceitfulness seduce his soul;

12 for the fascination of evil throws good things into the shade, and the whirlwind of desire corrupts a simple heart.

13 Having come to perfection so soon, he has lived long;

14 his soul being pleasing to the Lord, he has hurried away from the wickedness around him. Yet people look on, uncomprehending; and it does not enter their heads

15 that grace and mercy await his chosen ones and that he intervenes on behalf of his holy ones.

16 The upright who dies condemns the godless who survive, and youth quickly perfected condemns the lengthy old age of the wicked.

17 These people see the end of the wise without understanding what the Lord has in store or why he has taken such a one to safety;

18 they look on and sneer, but the Lord will laugh at them.

19 Soon they will be corpses without honour, objects of horror among the dead for ever. For he will shatter them and fling them headlong and dumbfounded. He will shake them from their foundations; they will be utterly laid waste, a prey to grief, and their memory will perish.

20 When the count of their sins has been drawn up, in terror they will come, and their crimes, confronting them, will accuse them.

Proverbs 24:27-29

27 Plan what you want on the open ground, make your preparation in the field; then go and build your house.

28 Do not bear witness lightly against your neighbour, nor deceive with your lips.

29 Do not say, ‘I will treat my neighbour as my neighbour treated me; I will repay everyone what each has earned.’


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