2 Maccabees - Chapter 15
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2 Those Jews who had been compelled to follow him, said, 'Do not massacre them in such a savage, barbarous way. Respect the day on which the All-seeing has conferred a special holiness.'
4 When they answered, 'The living Lord himself, the Heavenly Sovereign, has ordered the observance of the seventh day,'
7 Maccabaeus remained firm in his confident conviction that the Lord would stand by him.
8 He urged his men not to be dismayed by the foreigners' attacks but, keeping in mind the help that had come to them from Heaven in the past, to be confident that this time too victory would be theirs with the help of the Almighty.
9 He put fresh heart into them by citing the Law and the Prophets and, by stirring up memories of the battles they had already won, he filled them with new enthusiasm.
11 Having armed each one of them not so much with the safety given by shield and lance as with that confidence which springs from noble language, he encouraged them all by describing to them a convincing dream -- a vision, as it were.
12 What he had seen was this: Onias, the former high priest, that paragon of men, modest of bearing and gentle of manners, suitably eloquent and trained from boyhood in the practice of every virtue -- Onias was stretching out his hands and praying for the whole Jewish community.
13 Next, there appeared a man equally remarkable for his great age and dignity and invested with a marvellous and impressive air of majesty.
14 Onias began to speak: 'This is a man', he said, 'who loves his brothers and prays much for the people and the holy city-Jeremiah, the prophet of God.'
15 Jeremiah then stretched out his right hand and presented Judas with a golden sword, saying as he gave it,
16 'Take this holy sword as a gift from God; with it you will shatter the enemy.'
17 Encouraged by the noble words of Judas, which had the power to inspire valour and give the young the spirit of mature men, they decided not to entrench themselves in a camp, but bravely to take the offensive and, in hand-to-hand fighting, to commit the result to the fortune of war, since the city, their holy religion and the Temple were in danger.
20 Everyone now awaited the coming issue. The enemy had already concentrated their forces and stood formed up in order of battle, with the elephants drawn up in a strategic position and the cavalry disposed on the wings.
21 Maccabaeus took note of these masses confronting him, the glittering array of armour and the fierce aspect of the elephants; then, raising his hands to heaven, he called on the Lord who works miracles, in the knowledge that it is not by force of arms but as he sees fit to decide, that victory is granted by him to such as deserve it.
24 May these men be struck down by the might of your arm, since they have come with blasphemy on their lips to attack your holy people.' And on these words he finished.
25 Nicanor and his men advanced to the sound of trumpets and war songs,
27 Fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they cut down at least thirty-five thousand men and were greatly cheered by this manifestation of God.
28 When the engagement was over and they were withdrawing in triumph, they recognised Nicanor, lying dead in full armour.
30 He who, as protagonist, had devoted himself, body and soul, to his fellow-citizens, and had preserved the love he felt even in youth for those of his own race, gave orders for Nicanor's head to be cut off, with his arm up to the shoulder, and taken to Jerusalem.
32 He showed them the head of the abominable Nicanor, and the hand which this infamous man had stretched out so insolently against the holy House of the Almighty.
36 They all decreed by public vote never to let that day go by unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, called Adar in Aramaic, the eve of what is called the Day of Mordecai.
39 Just as it is injurious to drink wine by itself, or again water alone, whereas wine mixed with water is pleasant and produces a delightful sense of well-being, so skill in presenting the incidents is what delights the understanding of those who read the book. And her i close.
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Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 40:5, 7-8, 8-9, 10
Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14
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