The providential meaning of the persecution (2 Macc 6:12-6:17)

“Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities. You ought to recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people. In fact, it is a sign of great kindness not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately. In the case of the other nations, the Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have reached the full measure of their sins. However, he does not deal in this way with us. So that he may not take vengeance on us afterward when our sins have reached their height, he never withdraws his mercy from us. Although he disciplines us with calamities, he does not forsake his own people. Let what we have said serve as a reminder. We must go on briefly with the story.”

Here is a little editorial note of the biblical writer. In fact, he used the first person singular “I.” He did not want the reader to be depressed by these incidents. These punishments came to the Jewish people in order to discipline them, not to destroy them. With other nations, the Lord waited until they were totally sinful before he punished them. God’s mercy was always with the Jews, even when they were sinful. Although he disciplines the Jews, he never abandons them. Now that the author has put in this little reminder, he was going to continue on with the story. This is a rare look at the perspective of this biblical author. The Jews were unique in that God was merciful, no matter what.

The prayer of Judith for the future (Jdt 9:4-9:6)

“O God, my God,

Hear me also, a widow!

You have done these things,

Those things that went before

And those things that followed.

You have designed the things that are now.

You have designed those things that are to come.

What you had in your mind has happened.

The things that you decided on presented themselves.

Here we are!

All your ways are prepared in advance.

Your judgment is with foreknowledge.”

Now Judith is asking for the God of her ancestors to help her, a poor widow. She trusts in the providence of God. He has controlled the past. He has designed things for the future. Whatever is in the mind of God will be done. So now here we are. What are we to do? God has prepared all in advance since he has foreknowledge of all that is to come to pass.