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Friday, July 21, 2017

Introduction to Second book of Maccabees[1]

The author of this book focuses on the Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the hard work. Unlike 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees was written in Koine Greek, probably in Alexandria, Egypt, c 124 BC. It presents a revised version of the historical events recounted in the first seven chapters of 1 Maccabees, adding material from the Pharisaic tradition, including prayer for the dead and a resurrection on Judgment Day. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox consider the work to be canonical and part of the BibleProtestants and Jews reject most of the doctrinal issues present in the work. Some Protestants include 2 Maccabees as part of the Biblical Apocrypha, useful for reading in the church.   Unlike 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees does not attempt to provide a complete account of the events of the period. The author seems primarily interested in providing a theological interpretation of the events; in this book God's interventions direct the course of events, punishing the wicked and restoring the Temple to his people. It has been suggested that some events appear to be presented out of strict chronological order to make theological points, but there seems little reason to expect a sequential chronology anyway, and little evidence for demonstrating the point one way or the other. Some of the numbers cited for sizes of armies may also appear exaggerated, though not all of the manuscripts of this book agree. The Greek style of the writer is very educated, and he seems well-informed about Greek customs. The action follows a very simple plan: after the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple is instituted. The newly dedicated Temple is threatened by Nicanor, and after his death, the festivities for the dedication are concluded. A special day is dedicated to commemorate the Jewish victory called "Adar" and each year it is celebrated two days before "Mordecai Day". 2 Maccabees demonstrates several points of doctrinal interpretation deriving from Pharisaic Judaism, and also found in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology. Doctrinal issues that are raised in 2 Maccabees include:

·         Prayer for the dead and sacrificial offerings, both to free the dead from sin
·         Merits of the martyrs
·         Intercession of the saints (15:11–17) (at least as seen from a Christian viewpoint); the New American Bible comments on verse 14 "Jeremiah’s prayer in heaven has been taken in the Roman Catholic tradition as a biblical witness to the intercession of the saints"
·         Resurrection of the dead

Specific mention of creation ex nihilo (II Maccabees 7:28)
In particular, the long descriptions of the martyrdoms of Eleazar and of a mother with her seven sons (2 Macc 6:18–7:42) caught the imagination of medieval Christians. Several churches are dedicated to the "Maccabeean martyrs", and they are among the few pre-Christian figures to appear on the Catholic calendar of saints' days (that number is considerably higher in the Eastern Orthodox churches' calendars, where they also appear). The book is considered the first model of the medieval stories of the martyrs. Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin examines Hebrews 11:35 ("Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life") and notes that this hope of eternal life after torture is not found anywhere in the Protocanonicals of the Old Testament, but is found in 2 Maccabees 7.


2 Maccabees, Chapter 3, Verse 25
There appeared to them a richly caparisoned horse, mounted by a fearsome rider. Charging furiously, the horse attacked Heliodorus with its front hooves. The rider was seen wearing golden armor.

A caparisoned horse would be a horse that has its mane and tail decoratively tied and saddle and accoutrements highly decorative with the rider in a golden armor being of kingly or princely rank. This imagery noted shows that God will defend His temple. Heliodorus was on a mission to defraud the temple of its funds when he was struck down by this vision. In many respects it is a shadow of the conversion of Saul when God defends the living temples of His church the new Christians.

Fitness Friday

The True Temple of God[2]

Some thousand years before the time of Christ, the great Temple of Solomon was built. Previously, the tribes of Israel had worshipped God in sanctuaries housing the ark of the covenant. King David had desired to build a permanent house of God for the ark. But that work was accomplished by his son Solomon, equally famous for his wisdom and his eventual corruption. In the Old Testament, the Temple is often referred to as "the house of the Lord." Sometimes it is called "Zion," as in today's Psalm, a term that also referred to the city of Jerusalem. The Temple was a barometer of sorts for the health of the covenantal relationship between God and the people. Many prophets warned that a failure to uphold the Law and live the covenant would result in the destruction of the Temple. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, warned that having the temple couldn't protect the people from the consequences of their sins: "Put not your trust in these deceitful words: 'This is the Temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord'" (Jer 7:4). In 587 B.C., the Temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, marking the start of the exile. During that time, in the 25th year of exile, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of a new temple (see Ez 40-48). The description of the temple hearkened back in various ways to the first chapters of Genesis (see 2:10-14), including references to pure water, creatures in abundance and unfading trees producing continuous fresh fruit. This heavenly temple, it was commonly believed, would descend from heaven and God would then dwell in the midst of mankind. After the exile, the Temple was rebuilt, then damaged and rebuilt again. Finally, not long before the birth of Christ, Herod built a glorious temple. It was there that Jesus was presented by Mary and Joseph and blessed by Simeon (see Lk 2:22-35) and where he, as a youth, spent time talking to the teachers of the Law (Lk 2:43-50). It was also the setting for the scene described in the Gospel -- the cleansing of the Temple and Jesus' shocking prophecy: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Was Jesus, in cleansing the Temple, attacking the Temple itself? No. And did Jesus, in making his remark, say he would destroy the temple? No. But, paradoxically, the love of the Son for his Father and his Father's house did point toward the demise of the Temple. "This is a prophecy of the Cross," wrote Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in "The Spirit of the Liturgy." "He shows that the destruction of his earthly body will be at the same time the end of the Temple." Why? Because a new and everlasting Temple was established by the death and resurrection of the Son of God. "With his resurrection the new Temple will begin: the living body of Jesus Christ, which will now stand in the sight of God and be the place of all worship. Into this body he incorporates men." The new Temple of God did, in fact, come down from heaven. It dwelt among man (see Jn 1:14). "It" is a man: "Christ is the true temple of God, 'the place where his glory dwells'; by the grace of God, Christians also become temples of the Holy Spirit, living stones out of which the Church is built" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1197). Through baptism we become joined to the one Body of Christ, and that Body, the Church, is the "one temple of the Holy Spirit" (No. 776). "Come! behold the deeds of the Lord," wrote the Psalmist, "the astounding things he has wrought on earth." Indeed, behold Jesus Christ, the true and astounding temple of God, and worship him in spirit and in truth.

Daily Devotions/Prayers
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Novena of St. Ann-Day 5


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