Thoughts and Reflection
Today we read about a white horseman that appears as the people of Jerusalem are preparing to fight. Though the Lord is present, the people still need to enter into battle with those who want to hurt them. This is a reminder that God is always present, even when we may not feel his presence. God is always at work, but he expects us to act as well.
In Wisdom, we read of the goodness of God. He notes that we can either see the Lord as a father who tests us but does not want us to fail or as a stern king who condemns us. We are punished for the sins we commit. God forbids certain actions because they are not good for us. We also read that God corrects us “little by little” – patiently and gently for those who sin.
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!
2 Maccabees 11
1 Almost immediately afterwards, Lysias, the king’s tutor and cousin, chief minister of the realm, much disturbed at the turn of events,
2 mustered about eighty thousand foot soldiers and his entire cavalry and advanced against the Jews, intending to make the city a place for Greeks to live in,
3 to levy a tax on the Temple as on other national shrines, and to put the office of high priest up for sale every year;
4 he took no account at all of the power of God, being sublimely confident in his tens of thousands of infantrymen, his thousands of cavalry, and his eighty elephants.
5 Invading Judaea, he approached Beth-Zur, a fortified position about twenty miles from Jerusalem, and began to subject it to strong pressure.
6 When Maccabaeus and his men learned that Lysias was besieging the fortresses, they and the populace with them begged the Lordwith lamentation and tears to send a good angel to save Israel.
7 Maccabaeus himself was the first to take up his weapons, and he urged the rest to risk their lives with him in support of their brothers; so they sallied out resolutely, as one man.
8 They were still near Jerusalem when a rider attired in white appeared at their head, brandishing golden weapons.
9 With one accord they all blessed the God of mercy, and found themselves filled with such courage that they were ready to lay low not men only but the fiercest beasts and walls of iron.
10 They advanced in battle order with the aid of their celestial ally, the Lord having had mercy on them.
11 Charging like lions on the enemy, they laid low eleven thousand of the infantry and sixteen hundred horsemen, and routed all the rest.
12 Of those, the majority got away, wounded and weaponless. Lysias himself escaped only by ignominious flight.
13 Now Lysias was not lacking in intelligence and, as he reflected on the reverse he had just suffered, he realised that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought for them. He therefore sent them a delegation
14 to persuade them to accept reasonable terms all round, and promised to compel the king to become their friend.
15 Maccabaeus, thinking only of the common good, agreed to all that Lysias proposed, and whatever Maccabaeus submitted to Lysiasin writing concerning the Jews was granted by the king.
16 Here is the text of the letter Lysias wrote to the Jews: ‘Lysias to the Jewish people, greetings.
17 ‘John and Absalom, your envoys, have delivered to me the communication transcribed below, requesting me to approve its provisions.
18 Anything requiring the king’s attention I have put before him; whatever was possible, I have granted.
19 Provided you maintain your goodwill towards the interests of the State, I shall do my best in the future to promote your well-being.
20 As regards the details, I have given orders for your envoys and my own officials to discuss these with you.
21 May you prosper. ‘The twenty-fourth day of Dioscorus, in the year one hundred and forty-eight.’
22 The king’s letter ran as follows: ‘King Antiochus to his brother Lysias, greetings.
23 ‘Now that our father has taken his place among the gods, our will is that the subjects of the realm be left undisturbed to attend to their own affairs.
24 We understand that the Jews do not approve our father’s policy, the adoption of Greek customs, but prefer their own way of life and ask to be allowed to observe their own laws.
25 Accordingly, since we intend this people to be free from vexation like any other, our ruling is that the Temple be restored to them and that they conduct their affairs according to the customs of their ancestors.
26 ‘It will therefore be your concern to send them a mission of friendship, so that on learning our policy they may have confidence and happily go about their business.’
27 The king’s letter to the Jewish nation was in these terms: ‘King Antiochus to the Jewish Senate and the rest of the Jews, greetings.
28 ‘If you are well, that is as we would wish; we ourselves are in good health.
29 ‘Menelaus informs us that you wish to return home and attend to your own affairs.
30 Accordingly, all those who return before the thirtieth day of Xanthicus may rest assured that they have nothing to fear.
31 The Jews may make use of their own kind of food and their own laws as formerly, and none of them is to be molested in any way for any unwitting offences.
32 I am in fact sending Menelaus to set your minds at rest.
33 Farewell. ‘The fifteenth day of Xanthicus in the year one hundred and forty-eight.’
34 The Romans also sent the Jews a letter, which read as follows: ‘Quintus Memmius, Titus Manilius, Manius Sergius, legates of the Romans, to the people of the Jews, greetings.
35 ‘Whatever Lysias, the king’s Cousin, has granted you we also approve.
36 As for the matters he decided to refer to the king, consider them carefully and send someone without delay, if we are to interpret them to your advantage, because we are leaving for Antioch.
37 Lose no time, therefore, in sending us those who can tell us what your intentions are.
38 Farewell. ‘The fifteenth day of Dioscorus in the year one hundred and forty-eight.’
1 She made their actions successful, by means of a holy prophet.
2 They journeyed through an unpeopled desert and pitched their tents in inaccessible places.
3 They stood firm against their enemies, fought off their foes.
4 On you they called when they were thirsty, and from the rocky cliff water was given them, from hard stone a remedy for their thirst.
5 Thus, what had served to punish their enemies became a benefit for them in their difficulties.
6 Whereas their enemies had only the ever-flowing source of a river fouled with mingled blood and mud,
7 to punish them for their decree of infanticide, you gave your people, against all hope, water in abundance,
8 once you had shown by the thirst that they were experiencing how severely you were punishing their enemies.
9 From their own ordeals, which were only loving correction, they realised how an angry sentence was tormenting the godless;
10 for you had tested your own as a father admonishes, but the others you had punished as a pitiless king condemns,
11 and, whether far or near, they were equally afflicted.
12 For a double sorrow seized on them, and a groaning at the memory of the past;
13 when they learned that the punishments they were receiving were beneficial to the others, they realised it was the Lord,
14 while for the man whom long before they had exposed and later mockingly rebuffed, they felt only admiration when all was done, having suffered a thirst so different from that of the upright.
15 For their foolish and wicked notions which led them astray into worshipping mindless reptiles and contemptible beetles, you sent a horde of mindless animals to punish them
16 and to teach them that the agent of sin is the agent of punishment.
17 And indeed your all-powerful hand which created the world from formless matter, did not lack means to unleash a horde of bears or savage lions on them
18 or unknown beasts, newly created, full of rage, breathing out fire, or puffing out stinking smoke, or flashing fearful sparks from their eyes,
19 beasts able not only to destroy them, being so savage, but even to strike them dead by their terrifying appearance.
20 However, without these, one breath could have blown them over, pursued by Justice, whirled away by the breath of your power. You, however, ordered all things by measure, number and weight.
21 For your great power is always at your service, and who can withstand the might of your arm?
22 The whole world, for you, can no more than tip a balance, like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground.
23 Yet you are merciful to all, because you are almighty, you overlook people’s sins, so that they can repent.
24 Yes, you love everything that exists, and nothing that you have made disgusts you, since, if you had hated something, you would not have made it.
25 And how could a thing subsist, had you not willed it? Or how be preserved, if not called forth by you?
26 No, you spare all, since all is yours, Lord, lover of life!
1 For your imperishable spirit is in everything!
2 And thus, gradually, you correct those who offend; you admonish and remind them of how they have sinned, so that they may abstain from evil and trust in you, Lord.
3 The ancient inhabitants of your holy land
4 you hated for their loathsome practices, their acts of sorcery, and unholy rites.
5 Those ruthless murderers of children, those eaters of entrails at feasts of human flesh and of blood, those initiates of secretbrotherhoods,
6 those murderous parents of defenceless beings, you determined to destroy at our ancestors’ hands,
7 so that this land, dearer to you than any other, might receive a worthy colony of God’s children.
8 Even so, since these were human, you treated them leniently, sending hornets as forerunners of your army, to exterminate them little by little.
9 Not that you were unable to hand the godless over to the upright in pitched battle or destroy them at once by savage beasts or one harsh word;
10 but, by carrying out your sentences gradually, you gave them a chance to repent, although you knew that they were inherently evil, innately wicked,
11 and fixed in their cast of mind; for they were a race accursed from the beginning. Nor was it from awe of anyone that you let their sins go unpunished.
12 For who is there to ask, ‘What have you done?’ Or who is there to disagree with your sentence? Who to arraign you for destroying nations which you have created? Who to confront you by championing the wicked?
13 For there is no god, other than you, who cares for every one, to whom you have to prove that your sentences have been just.
14 No more could any king or despot challenge you over those whom you have punished.
15 For, being upright yourself, you rule the universe uprightly, and hold it as incompatible with your power to condemn anyone who has not deserved to be punished.
16 For your strength is the basis of your saving justice, and your sovereignty over all makes you lenient to all.
17 You show your strength when people will not believe in your absolute power, and you confound any insolence in those who do know it.
18 But you, controlling your strength, are mild in judgement, and govern us with great lenience, for you have only to will, and your power is there.
19 By acting thus, you have taught your people that the upright must be kindly to his fellows, and you have given your children the goodhope that after sins you will grant repentance.
20 For, if with such care and indulgence you have punished your children’s enemies, though doomed to death, and have given them timeand place to be rid of their wickedness,
21 with what exact attention have you not judged your children, to whose ancestors, by oaths and covenants, you made such generous promises?
22 Thus, you instruct us, when you punish our enemies in moderation, that we should reflect on your kindness when we judge, and, when we are judged, we should look for mercy.
23 And this is why people leading foolish and wicked lives were tortured by you with their own abominations;
24 for they had strayed too far on the paths of error by taking the vilest and most despicable of animals for gods, being deluded like silly little children.
25 So, as to children with no sense, you gave them a sentence making fools of them.
26 Those, however, who would not take warning from a mocking reproof were soon to endure a sentence worthy of God.
27 The creatures that made them suffer and against which they protested, those very creatures that they had taken for gods and by which they were punished they saw in their true light; and he whom hitherto they had refused to know, they realised was true God. And this is why the final condemnation fell on them.
8 What your eyes have witnessed do not produce too quickly at the trial, for what are you to do at the end should your neighbour confute you?
9 Have the quarrel out with your neighbour. but do not disclose another’s secret,
10 for fear your listener put you to shame, and the loss of repute be irremediable.