Posts Tagged ‘Nicanor’

2 Maccabees 15: Battle – Part I

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Frans Floris the Elder: The Triumph of Judas Maccabeus

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

We know this, and yet we insist on determining what best disciplines us, rather than deferring to God’s own discipline.

For those of us who are fortunate to live outside of active warfare, the turbulence of today’s story is reflected in the ups and downs of our daily existence.  Strife appears in many forms.  We might see the bloody stories of Nicanor, Razis and Judas Maccabeus as a more sanguine version of interoffice gossip, of neighborhood one-upmanship, of family betrayal, or backstabbing among apparent friends.  Human beings are constantly striving to prove things, to win battles, to sway or coerce, to be right, to be included, to belong, to exclude.

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

We cling to hope that our point will be seen.  We believe that if we work long enough and try hard enough we can win or do anything, rather than understanding that no victory without God is a true victory.  A conquest not attended by God may, in fact, spell the beginning of our end.

Spending hours plotting, gathering others to rally around us, using shrill speech to gain allies, or extreme and ugly force to obtain that on which we have set our eye, these are all tactics we read about today.  We call these measures excessive and beyond necessary; yet they remain the mark of the human struggle that draws us in constantly.

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

Use the scripture links to learn more about Nicanor, Razis and Judas Maccabeus.

Tomorrow, God’s skirmish.  

Written on February 28, 2009.

Image from http://www.artnet.com/artists/frans-floris-the-elder/the-triumph-of-judas-maccabeus-_40ZvRvvvz4hHJDvb7i3sA2

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Monday, November 26, 2012 – 2 Maccabees 9 – Giving Up & Giving In

We might eliminate a good deal of treachery and betrayal from our lives if we first find a way of doing all things through, and for, and with God alone . . . for God alone guarantees an honorable path for living.  God alone assures us a life spent in eternal serenity.  God alone makes promises that are fully and truly kept. 

These are the closing words from Saturday’s Noontime when we reflected on Chapter 8 of 2 Maccabees.  Today we look at The Punishment and Death of Antiochus: the stories of Antiochus’ illness and death.  Verses 8 – 11: Thus, he who previously, in his superhuman presumption, thought he could command the waves of the sea, and imagined he could weigh the mountaintops in his scales, was now thrown to the ground and had to be carried on a litter, clearly manifesting to all the power of God . . . Shortly before, he had thought that he could reach the stars of heaven, and now, no one could endure to transport the man because of his intolerable stench.  At last, broken in spirit, he began to give up his excessive arrogance, and to gain some understanding, under the scourge of God, for he was racked with pain unceasingly. 

After suffering the torment of his pain, he capitulates to the will of God.  He vows to restore all that he has ruined, and even vows that he will convert to Judaism.  This is a story of a fearsome ruler who surrenders to an even more fearsome Old Testament Yahweh, a God who is relentless in delivering justice.   The story ends sadly, with Yahweh apparently deaf to this sinner’s petitions for mercy.  So this murderer and blasphemer, after extreme sufferings, such as he had inflicted on others, died a miserable death in the mountains of a foreign land. 

We have no way on knowing how this man is ultimately judged by his maker.  In the context of the times he was seen as one who sinned so greatly that he became a lost soul, succumbing to the temptation of sin.  This is a man who would have done well by listening to the words of Psalm 36: Sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of the heart.  There is no fear of God before his eyes.  He so flatters himself in his mind that he knows not his guilt.  In his mouth are mischief and deceit.  All wisdom is gone.  He plots the defeat of goodness as he lies on his bed.  He has set his foot on evil ways, he clings to what is evil. 

The psalmist does not try to solve the riddle of evil into which souls enter when they begin to love lies and deception; nor may we for these are the inscrutable ways of Yahweh.  Instead, we might look at this man and ourselves with New Testament eyes, and we might continue with Psalm 36 as we sing to God: To both man and beast you give protection.  O Lord, how precious is your love.  My God, the sons of men find refuge in the shelter of your wings.  They feast on the riches of your house; they drink from the stream of your delight.  In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.

Superhuman presumption, excessive arrogance . . . a broken spirit, a believer in love.  Nicanor and Antiochus . . . Paul and Abraham.  Those who trust only power and self . . . those who trust only God.

Even if – and perhaps especially when – the path directly before us is shrouded in mystery, we are given a clear direction by the source of all life itself so that we might orient our journey.  When we suffer from a broken spirit, we will want to see this sorrow as what it is . . . a giving up of presumption and arrogance . . . and a giving in to goodness and light.

Written on November 26, 2010.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

For an interesting post about journeying, click on the image above or go to: http://journeyintomidlife.com/contact.htm

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We close this week in which we have given thanks for so many gifts and so much abundance, and we consider the story of Abraham that has come to us through the millennia.  Abraham and Sarah journeyed – in faith – with God.  Let us consider our own journey, and the importance we place on faith.

Sunday, November 25, 2012 – Romans 4 – Faith

Yesterday we reflected on Nicanor, a man who trusted in himself above all else; today we reflect on Abraham, a man who trusted in God above all else.  St. Paul tells us that Abraham is justified – saved – by this great faith he holds in God the Father.

Notes will tell us that this chapter is an expansion of a themes Paul also hit when writing to the Galatians in Chapter 3 of that letter: O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?  I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you so stupid?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?  Did you experience so many things in vain? – if indeed it was in vain. 

Paul continues in his iteration of how Abraham came to believe, and how Abraham held to his belief that God is present, compassionate and supreme.  Today in Romans, he speaks again of how the Law of Moses is empty without faith in Christ.  The Law – even if followed to the letter – cannot bring us the deep, comforting and always-present knowledge that we are the well-loved children of God.  The Law – even with all its intricacies – has nothing to offer us except when seen as fulfilled in Christ.

Jesus is our brother; he is God who walks among us still.  Given the testimony of so many witnesses at the time of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and given our own testimony of miracles worked in us today – how can we fail to believe that the Spirit continues to comfort, the Son continues to save, and that the Father continues to love us?  Using the example of Abraham, this is the question Paul put before the Galatians two thousand years ago; it is the question he puts before us today.   Are we so stupid that we do not believe the evidence we have even in our own lives that Jesus lives, the Spirit abides, and God protects and calls?  Abraham acted on his deep, abiding faith, and so may we.

Let us pray . . .

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body already dead . . . and neither must we weaken.

He did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief . . . and neither must we doubt.

He was fully convinced that what God had promised to do he would do . . . and so must we be convinced. 

He was empowered by faith and gave glory to God . . . and so must we.  Even when we go through dry times, even when we go through pain, even when we have become exhausted from the race . . . we must abide in faith . . . for there is no other salvation or justification. 

In this week when we have celebrated Thanksgiving  – whether we are alone, whether we gather we loved ones or strangers – let us acknowledge that we have been redeemed, and let us lay our weariness and woes at the feet of the only one who can bring us the serenity and joy we seek.  Let us give all back to God in the belief that we are loved, that we are treasured, and that we have been saved in order to live in and with God.   We ask this in faith, Amen. 

Written on November 25, 2010, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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