Day 310 – Rivals For The Heart

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read in Proverbs that if we have patience and we are consistent, then we can accomplish great things. We also hear about the virtue of temperance — knowing when we have had enough.

In Wisdom, we hear about how people can make gods out of the good things that surround them. In the ancient world, some cultures would make idols out of things like snakes and flies. They would worship something that doesn’t have ability or nobility. We might do the same thing and set up rivals for God in our hearts, but our relationship with God doesn’t allow for any rivals.

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 13

1 In the year one hundred and forty-nine, Judas and his men discovered that Antiochus Eupator was advancing in force against Judaea,

2 and with him Lysias his tutor and chief minister; he had moreover a Greek force of one hundred and ten thousand infantry, five thousand three hundred cavalry, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots fitted with scythes.

3 Menelaus, too, joined them and very craftily kept urging Antiochus on, not for the welfare of his own country but in the hope of being restored to office.

4 But the King of kings stirred up the anger of Antiochus against the guilty wretch, and when Lysias made it clear to the king that Menelaus was the cause of all the troubles, Antiochus gave orders for him to be taken to Beroea and there put to death by the local method of execution.

5 In that place there is a tower fifty cubits high, full of ash, with an internal lip all round overhanging the ashes.

6 If anyone is convicted of sacrilegious theft or of some other heinous crime, he is taken up to the top and pushed over to perish.

7 In such a manner was the renegade fated to die; Menelaus had not even the privilege of burial.

8 Deserved justice, this; since he had committed many sins against the altar, the fire and ashes of which were holy, it was in ashes that he met his death.

9 The king, then, was advancing, his mind filled with barbarous designs, to give the Jews a demonstration of far worse things than anything that had happened under his father.

10 When Judas heard of this, he ordered the people day and night to call on the Lord as never before, to come to the help of those who were in peril of being deprived of the Law, their fatherland and the holy Temple,

11 and not to allow the people, just when they were beginning to breathe again, to fall into the power of ill-famed foreigners.

12 When they had all, with one voice, obeyed his instructions and had made their petitions to the merciful Lord, weeping, fasting and prostrating themselves for three days continuously, Judas spoke words of encouragement and told them to keep close to him.

13 After separate consultation with the elders, he resolved not to wait for the king’s army to invade Judaea and take possession of the city, but to march out and settle the whole matter with the Lord’s help.

14 Having thus committed the outcome to the Creator of the world, and having exhorted his soldiers to fight bravely to the death for the laws, the Temple, the city, their country and their way of life, he encamped his army near Modein.

15 Giving his men the password ‘Victory from God’, he made a night attack on the king’s pavilion with a picked band of the bravest young men. Inside the camp he destroyed about two thousand, and his men cut down the largest of the elephants with its mahout;

16 having eventually filled the camp with terror and confusion, they successfully withdrew,

17 just as dawn was breaking. This was achieved, thanks to the protection which the Lord granted Judas.

18 The king, having had a taste of Jewish daring, now tried to capture their positions by trickery.

19 He advanced on Beth-Zur, a strong fortress of the Jews, but was checked, overcome and so repulsed.

20 Judas supplied the garrison with what they needed,

21 but Rhodocus, of the Jewish army, supplied the enemy with secret information; the man was identified, arrested, and dealt with.

22 A second time, the king parleyed with the garrison of Beth-Zur; he offered and accepted pledges of friendship, retired, then attacked Judas and his men, but lost the battle.

23 He was then told that Philip, left in charge of affairs, had rebelled in Antioch. He was stunned by this, opened negotiations with the Jews, came to an agreement, and swore to abide by all reasonable conditions. Agreement reached, he offered a sacrifice, honoured the Temple, and made generous gifts to the holy place. 

24 He received Maccabaeus kindly and, leaving Hegemonides to exercise command from Ptolemais to the territory of the Gerrenians,

25 went to Ptolemais. The inhabitants of the place disapproved of the treaty; they complained furiously and wanted to annul its provisions.

26 Lysias mounted the rostrum and made a convincing defence of the provisions which convinced and calmed them and won their goodwill. He then withdrew to Antioch. So much for the episode of the king’s offensive and retreat.

Wisdom 15

1 But you, our God, are kind and true, slow to anger, governing the universe with mercy.

2 Even if we sin, we are yours, since we acknowledge your power, but we will not sin, knowing we count as yours.

3 To know you is indeed the perfect virtue, and to know your power is the root of immortality.

4 We have not been duped by inventions of misapplied human skill, or by the sterile work of painters, by figures daubed with assorted colours,

5 the sight of which sets fools yearning and hankering for the lifeless form of an unbreathing image.

6 Lovers of evil and worthy of such hopes are those who make them, those who want them and those who worship them.

7 Take a potter, now, laboriously working the soft earth, shaping each object for us to use. Out of the self-same clay, he models vessels intended for a noble use and those for a contrary purpose, all alike: but which of these two uses each will have is for the potter himself to decide.

8 Then — ill — spent effort!-from the same clay he models a futile god, although so recently made out of earth himself and shortly to return to what he was taken from, when asked to give back the soul that has been lent to him.

9 Even so, he does not worry about having to die or about the shortness of his life, but strives to outdo the goldsmiths and silversmiths, imitates the bronzeworkers, and prides himself on modelling counterfeits.

10 Ashes, his heart; more vile than earth, his hope; more wretched than clay, his life!

11 For he has misconceived the One who has modelled him, who breathed an active soul into him and inspired a living spirit.

12 What is more, he looks on this life of ours as a kind of game, and our time here like a fair, full of bargains. ‘However foul the means,’ he says, ‘a man must make a living.’

13 He, more than any other, knows he is sinning, he who from one earthy stuff makes both brittle pots and idols.

14 But most foolish, more pitiable even than the soul of a little child, are the enemies who once played the tyrant with your people,

15 and have taken all the idols of the heathen for gods; these can use neither their eyes for seeing nor their nostrils for breathing the air nor their ears for hearing nor the fingers on their hands for handling nor their feet for walking.

16 They have been made, you see, by a human being, modelled by a being whose own breath is borrowed. No man can model a god to resemble himself;

17 subject to death, his impious hands can produce only something dead. He himself is worthier than the things he worships; he will at least have lived, but never they.

18 And they worship even the most loathsome of animals, worse than the rest in their degree of stupidity,

19 without a trace of beauty — if that is what is attractive in animals- and excluded from God’s praises and blessing.

Wisdom 16

1 Thus they were appropriately punished by similar creatures and tormented by swarms of vermin.

2 In contrast to this punishment, you did your people a kindness and, to satisfy their sharp appetite, provided quails — a luscious rarity — for them to eat.

3 Thus the Egyptians, at the repulsive sight of the creatures sent against them, were to find that, though they longed for food, they had lost their natural appetite; whereas your own people, after a short privation, were to have a rare relish for their portion.

4 Inevitable that relentless want should seize on the former oppressors; enough for your people to be shown how their enemies were being tortured.

5 Even when the fearful rage of wild animals overtook them and they were perishing from the bites of writhing snakes, your retribution did not continue to the end.

6 Affliction struck them briefly, by way of warning, and they had a saving token to remind them of the commandment of your Law,

7 for whoever turned to it was saved, not by what he looked at, but by you, the Saviour of all.

8 And by such means you proved to our enemies that you are the one who delivers from every evil;

9 for them, the bites of locusts and flies proved fatal and no remedy could be found to save their lives, since they deserved to be punished by such creatures.

10 But your children, not even the fangs of poisonous snakes could bring them down; for your mercy came to their help and cured them.

11 One sting — how quickly healed!-to remind them of your pronouncements rather than that, by sinking into deep forgetfulness, they should be cut off from your kindness.

12 No herb, no poultice cured them, but your all-healing word, Lord.

13 Yes, you are the one with power over life and death, bringing to the gates of Hades and back again.

14 A human being out of malice may put to death, but cannot bring the departed spirit back or free the soul that Hades has once received.

15 It is not possible to escape your hand.

16 The godless who refused to acknowledge you were scourged by the strength of your arm, pursued by no ordinary rains, hail and unrelenting downpours, and consumed by fire.

17 Even more wonderful, in the water — which quenches all — the fire raged fiercer than ever; for the elements fight for the upright.

18 At one moment, the fire would die down, to avoid consuming the animals sent against the godless and to make clear to them by that sight, that the sentence of God was pursuing them;

19 at another, in the very heart of the water, it would burn more fiercely than fire to ruin the produce of a wicked land.

20 How differently with your people! You gave them the food of angels, from heaven untiringly providing them bread already prepared, containing every delight, to satisfy every taste.

21 And the substance you gave showed your sweetness towards your children, for, conforming to the taste of whoever ate it, it transformed itself into what each eater wished.

22 Snow and ice endured the fire, without melting; this was to show them that, to destroy the harvests of their enemies, fire would burn even in hail and flare in falling rain,

23 whereas, on the other hand, it would even forget its own strength in the service of feeding the upright.

24 For the creation, being at the service of you, its Creator, tautens to punish the wicked and slackens for the benefit of those who trust in you.

25 And this is why, by changing into all things, it obediently served your all-nourishing bounty, conforming to the wishes of those who were in need;

26 so that your beloved children, Lord, might learn that the various crops are not what provide nourishment, but your word which preserves all who believe in you.

27 For that which fire could not destroy melted in the heat of a single fleeting sunbeam,

28 to show that, to give you thanks, we must rise before the sun and meet you at the dawning of the day;

29 whereas the hope of the ungrateful melts like winter frost and flows away like water running to waste.

Proverbs 25:15-17

15 With patience a judge may be cajoled: a soft tongue breaks bones.

16 Eat to your satisfaction what honey you may find, but not to excess or you will bring it up again.

17 Do not set foot too often in your neighbour’s house, for fear the neighbour tire of you and come to hate you.


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