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joySunday, November 14, 2021

2 Maccabees 9

Joy and Arrogance

The Books of Maccabees unfold for us violence, rebellion, abhorrence and fear. We may be surprised to find that joy threads its way through these stories. As we examine the tales of the Maccabees family, let us consider how our own families are caught up in global and local affairs . . . and how miserable circumstances may well be hiding glimmers of joy . . . if we might only look. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy even when we suffer at the hands of the arrogant.

The effects of arrogance are far-reaching and long-lasting. Arrogance leads us into ourselves and a belief that we can resolve all conflicts and overcome all obstacles. Arrogance leads us away from God and a healthy understanding that ultimately, we cannot control all that touches and surrounds us. Arrogance is a wall the weak construct behind which to hide. Arrogance uses the tools of bullies, obfuscators and liars. Arrogance is not found in Christ himself, who showed us that humility and meekness before God lead us to truth, goodness and even immortality. Antiochus IV is one of history’s lessons on arrogance.

Verses 9:1-4: About this time Antiochus was retreating in disorder from Persia, where he had entered the city of Persepolis and had attempted to rob a temple and take control of the city. The people took up arms and attacked Antiochus, forcing his army to retreat in disgrace. He became furious and decided to make the Jews pay for the defeat he had suffered. So he ordered his chariot driver not to stop until they reached Jerusalem. With great arrogance he said, “I will turn Jerusalem into a graveyard full of Jews”. But he did not know that he was heading straight for God’s judgment. 

Antiochus falls ill on his way to eradicate the Jews.

Verses 9:7-8: But this in no way caused him to give up his pride. Instead he became more arrogant than ever, and breathing out fiery threats against the Jews, he gave orders to drive even faster. As a result he fell out of his chariot with such a thud that it made every bone in his body ache. His arrogant pride made him think he had the superhuman strength to make ocean waves obey him and to weigh high mountains on a pair of scales. But suddenly he fell flat on the ground and had to be carried off on a stretcher.

At last Antiochus capitulates to forces he knows he cannot control, and he decides to ask forgiveness of the people of Jerusalem in a letter which he writes to them.

Verses 9:20-21: I hope that you and your families are in good health and that all goes well with you. My hope is in God, and I remember with a deep sense of joy the respect and kindness that you have shown me.

We might see our neighbors, friends, work colleagues, loved ones or even ourselves in Antiochus today. Let us pause to consider how we might break the misery of arrogance that lives in the world’s power centers; and let us call one another to a new humility and meekness that Jesus shows us. As we reflect on the conversion of this intense and complex man, let us look for the joy that lives somewhere deep inside the most entrenched and ugly faces of arrogance.

antiochus_iv_epiphanes_morkholm_14


More information can be found about Antiochus IV at: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Hanukkah/History/Antiochus_Madman.shtml and https://sawiggins.wordpress.com/tag/antiochus-iv-epiphanes/ 

For more Noontime reflections about this tumultuous time, enter the word Maccabees into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://sawiggins.wordpress.com/tag/antiochus-iv-epiphanes/

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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Psalm 49: Self-Rescue

Sunday, August 28, 2016psa-49-15-ww-stock-9x

Yesterday we heard from Peter about sloppy living; today we hear the psalmist’ words on the foolishness of trusting in wealth. Today we pray Psalm 49 using THE MESSAGE translation and we open ourselves to the understanding that God alone saves, God alone transforms, God alone gives us the gift of eternal life.

The psalmist prepares us to hear words that save.

Listen, everyone, listen—
    earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
    and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

The psalmist delivers words that calm.

So why should I fear in bad times,
    hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
    demeaned by the arrogant rich?

The psalmist sings verses that reveal.

Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,
    pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
    and even then it doesn’t guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
    against the Black Hole.

The psalmist speaks verses that ring true.

Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
    wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
    move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
    And to think they named counties after themselves!

The psalmist declares truths that are evident.

So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
    and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
    fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
    and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
    where they’ll never see sunshine again.

The psalmist proclaims words we will want to sing out together as we give thanks for God’s gifts of assurance, redemption, and rescue.

Listen, everyone, listen—
    earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
    and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

Compare this translation with others to better understand the psalmist’s message.

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