Day 306 – Wisdom Is Beautiful

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read about the defeat of Antiochus that we first read in 1 Maccabees. In 2 Maccabees we hear who actually defeated him — the Lord. We must remember that the Lord is always involved in fighting and machinations.

There is one of two perspectives we can take in our life — we can focus on ourselves and our own strength or we can be open to God being active in our life, always helping us. This second book of Maccabees shows us that life with the Lord is not predictable and there is no guarantee that we will win every battle or never suffer again. We do have the Guarantee that the Lord is always with us.

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 9

1 At about the same time, Antiochus was beating a disorderly retreat from Persia.

2 He had entered the city called Persepolis, planning to rob the temple and occupy the city; but the population at once sprang to arms to defend themselves, with the result that Antiochus was routed by the inhabitants and forced to beat a humiliating retreat.

3 On his arrival in Ecbatana he learned what had happened to Nicanor and to Timotheus’ forces.

4 Flying into a passion, he resolved to make the Jews pay for the disgrace inflicted by those who had routed him, and with this in mindhe ordered his charioteer to drive without stopping and get the journey over. But the sentence of Heaven was already hanging over him. In his pride, he had said, ‘When I reach Jerusalem, I shall turn it into a mass grave for the Jews.’

5 But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him with an incurable and unseen complaint. The words were hardly out of his mouth when he was seized with an incurable pain in his bowels and with excruciating internal torture;

6 and this was only right, since he had inflicted many barbaric tortures on the bowels of others.

7 Even so, he in no way diminished his arrogance; still bursting with pride, breathing fire in his wrath against the Jews, he was in the act of ordering an even keener pace when the chariot gave a sudden lurch and out he fell and, in this serious fall, was dragged along, every joint of his body wrenched out of place. 

8 He who only a little while before had thought in his superhuman boastfulness he could command the waves of the sea, he who had imagined he could weigh mountain peaks in a balance, found himself flat on the ground and then being carried in a litter, a visible demonstration to all of the power of God,

9 in that the very eyes of this godless man teemed with worms and his flesh rotted away while he lingered on in agonising pain, and the stench of his decay sickened the whole army.

10 A short while before, he had thought to grasp the stars of heaven; now no one could bring himself to act as his bearer, for the stench was intolerable.

11 Then and there, as a consequence, in his shattered state, he began to shed his excessive pride and come to his senses under the divine lash, spasms of pain overtaking him.

12 His stench being unbearable even to himself, he exclaimed, ‘It is right to submit to God; no mortal should aspire to equality with the Godhead.’

13 The wretch began to pray to the Master, who would never take pity on him now, declaring

14 that the holy city, towards which he had been speeding to rase it to the ground and turn it into a mass grave, should be declared free;

15 as for the Jews, whom he had considered as not even worth burying, so much carrion to be thrown out with their children for birds and beasts to prey on, he would give them all equal rights with the Athenians;

16 the holy Temple which he had once plundered he would now adorn with the finest offerings; he would restore all the sacred vessels many times over; he would defray from his personal revenue the expenses incurred for the sacrifices;

17 and, to crown all, he would himself turn Jew and visit every inhabited place, proclaiming the power of God.

18 Finding no respite at all from his suffering, God’s just sentence having overtaken him, he abandoned all hope for himself and wrote the Jews the letter transcribed below, which takes the form of an appeal in these terms:

19 ‘To the excellent Jews, to the citizens, Antiochus, king and commander-in-chief, sends hearty greetings, wishing them all health and prosperity.

20 ‘If you and your children are well and your affairs as you would wish, we are profoundly thankful.

21 For my part, I cherish affectionate memories of you. ‘On my return from the country of Persia I fell seriously ill, and thought it necessary to make provision for the common security of all.

22 Not that I despair of my condition, for I have great hope of shaking off the malady,

23 but considering how my father, whenever he was making an expedition into the uplands, would designate his successor

24 so that, in case of any unforeseen event or disquieting rumour, the people of the provinces might know to whom he had left the conduct of affairs, and thus remain undisturbed;

25 furthermore, being well aware that the sovereigns on our frontiers and the neighbours of our realm are watching for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen, I have designated as king my son Antiochus, whom I have more than once entrusted and commended to most of you when I was setting out for the upland satrapies; a transcript of my letter to him is appended hereto.

26 I therefore urge and require you, being mindful of the benefits both public and personal received from me, that you each persist in those sentiments of goodwill that you harbour towards me.

27 I am confident that he will pursue my own policy with benevolence and humanity, and will prove accommodating to your interests.’

28 And so this murderer and blasphemer, having endured sufferings as terrible as those which he had made others endure, met his pitiable fate, and ended his life in the mountains far from his home.

29 His comrade Philip brought back his body, and then, fearing Antiochus’ son, withdrew to Egypt, to the court of Ptolemy Philometor.

Wisdom 7

1 I too am mortal like everyone else, a descendant of the first man formed from the earth. I was modelled in flesh inside a mother’s womb,

2 where, for ten months, in blood I acquired substance — the result of virile seed and pleasure, sleep’s companion.

3 I too, when I was born, drew in the common air, I fell on the same ground that bears us all, and crying was the first sound I made, like everyone else.

4 I was nurtured in swaddling clothes, with every care.

5 No king has known any other beginning of existence;

6 for there is only one way into life, and one way out of it.

7 And so I prayed, and understanding was given me; I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.

8 I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones; compared with her, I held riches as nothing.

9 I reckoned no precious stone to be her equal, for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand, and beside her, silver ranks as mud.

10 I loved her more than health or beauty, preferred her to the light, since her radiance never sleeps.

11 In her company all good things came to me, and at her hands incalculable wealth.

12 All these delighted me, since Wisdom brings them, though I did not then realise that she was their mother.

13 What I learned diligently, I shall pass on liberally, I shall not conceal how rich she is.

14 For she is to human beings an inexhaustible treasure, and those who acquire this win God’s friendship, commended to him by the gifts of instruction.

15 May God grant me to speak as he would wish and conceive thoughts worthy of the gifts I have received, since he is both guide to Wisdom and director of sages;

16 for we are in his hand, yes, ourselves and our sayings, and all intellectual and all practical knowledge.

17 He it was who gave me sure knowledge of what exists, to understand the structure of the world and the action of the elements,

18 the beginning, end and middle of the times, the alternation of the solstices and the succession of the seasons,

19 the cycles of the year and the position of the stars,

20 the natures of animals and the instincts of wild beasts, the powers of spirits and human mental processes, the varieties of plants and the medical properties of roots.

21 And now I understand everything, hidden or visible, for Wisdom, the designer of all things, has instructed me.

22 For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd,

23 irresistible, beneficent, friendly to human beings, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits.

24 For Wisdom is quicker to move than any motion; she is so pure, she pervades and permeates all things.

25 She is a breath of the power of God, pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; so nothing impure can find its way into her.

26 For she is a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God’s active power, and image of his goodness.

27 Although she is alone, she can do everything; herself unchanging, she renews the world, and, generation after generation, passing into holy souls, she makes them into God’s friends and prophets;

28 for God loves only those who dwell with Wisdom.

29 She is indeed more splendid than the sun, she outshines all the constellations; compared with light, she takes first place,

30 for light must yield to night, but against Wisdom evil cannot prevail.

Wisdom 8

Strongly she reaches from one end of the world to the other and she governs the whole world for its good.

2 Wisdom I loved and searched for from my youth; I resolved to have her as my bride, I fell in love with her beauty.

3 She enhances her noble birth by sharing God’s life, for the Master of All has always loved her.

4 Indeed, she shares the secrets of God’s knowledge, and she chooses what he will do.

5 If in this life wealth is a desirable possession, what is more wealthy than Wisdom whose work is everywhere?

6 Or if it be the intellect that is at work, who, more than she, designs whatever exists?

7 Or if it be uprightness you love, why, virtues are the fruit of her labours, since it is she who teaches temperance and prudence, justiceand fortitude; nothing in life is more useful for human beings.

8 Or if you are eager for wide experience, she knows the past, she forecasts the future; she knows how to turn maxims, and solve riddles; she has foreknowledge of signs and wonders, and of the unfolding of the ages and the times.

9 I therefore determined to take her to share my life, knowing that she would be my counsellor in prosperity and comfort me in cares and sorrow.

10 ‘Thanks to her, I shall be admired by the masses and honoured, though young, by the elders.

11 I shall be reckoned shrewd as a judge, and the great will be amazed at me.

12 They will wait on my silences, and pay attention when I speak; if I speak at some length, they will lay their hand on their lips.

13 By means of her, immortality will be mine, I shall leave an everlasting memory to my successors.

14 I shall govern peoples, and nations will be subject to me;

15 at the sound of my name fearsome despots will be afraid; I shall show myself kind to the people and valiant in battle.

16 ‘When I go home I shall take my ease with her, for nothing is bitter in her company, when life is shared with her there is no pain, nothing but pleasure and joy.’

17 Having meditated on all this, and having come to the conclusion that immortality resides in kinship with Wisdom,

18 noble contentment in her friendship, inexhaustible riches in her activities, understanding in cultivating her society, and renown in conversing with her, I went all ways, seeking how to get her.

19 I was a boy of happy disposition, I had received a good soul as my lot,

20 or rather, being good, I had entered an undefiled body;

21 but, realising that I could never possess Wisdom unless God gave her to me, -a sign of intelligence in itself, to know in whose gift she lay — I prayed to the Lord and entreated him, and with all my heart I said:

Proverbs 25:1-3

1 Here are some more of Solomon’s proverbs, transcribed at the court of Hezekiah king of Judah:

2 To conceal a matter, this is the glory of God, to sift it thoroughly, the glory of kings.

3 The heavens for height and the earth for depth, unfathomable, as are the hearts of kings.


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