Rediscovering Hanukkah

Salvation History records many instances of Jewish persecution. Around 150 years before Christ, it was the turn of the Greeks to wreak havoc and it fell to a brave remnant to uphold the traditions of the elders and revolt against tyranny. Judas Maccabeus and his band of faithful followers relied on God rather than brawn and were ultimately successful in throwing off the yoke. And finally, on the 25th day of the month of Chislev, we found them removing the blot of the Gentiles and rebuilding, refitting, and re-consecrating the sanctuary. Judas decreed that this feast should be celebrated for 8 days every year on the anniversary, which is now known as the celebration of Hanukkah.

First simply called the Feast of the Dedication, it is now called the Festival of Lights. The menorah consists of 9 candles, and on successive days, each candle is lit from the main candle which sits atop the rest. This reminds the faithful how the oil which was sufficient only for a day miraculously lasted for the entire celebration of 8 days.

Persecution

There are some who live in fear of practicing their religion. Think of the Middle East or China and other parts of the world. Persecution likely deepens and purifies the thirst for justice and ultimately, God. But for most of the world, our reality is different. We are free from persecution, and frequently this freedom leads to disdain. It might appear the majority are free from persecution, but are we?

Think of the pandemic and the way liberties are trampled upon, churches shuttered, and religion crowded out of the public square. And the internal persecution we alluded to is much more subtle. For the Evil One is active not only in the more blatant forms but also in the internal conversations of our mind, where no speech is used, but only thoughts. And by daily dint, we’re convinced to give up a devotion here and a rosary there, until we’re well and truly under his spell and treat God as the tyrant.

Temple Area

Jesus went into the temple area and drove out all who were selling things. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. And there are a few areas that we need to invite Jesus to come and drive out the spirits that cause us to say “mine” and “not yet, Lord”. We must be intentional about this, for each of us have created areas closed off from God’s redeeming grace.

Here the image of Fr. Cantalamessa’s (Fr. C) stalagmites will underscore the point. By way of definition, a stalagmite (not to be confused with a stalactite) is a solid column that forms in very old caves when drops of limestone water fall from the ceiling, rising from the bottom up. Fr. C imagines sins falling into the bottom of the heart and forming stalagmites that remain over time because our repentance is imperfect. Our hearts are made of stone through small compromises and resistances to God that build up over time. These stalagmites cannot be destroyed by our own wills because they are there precisely by our will. Fr. C goes on to say that only the blood of Christ is the solvent that can remove this incrustation.

Re-dedication of our Temples

Brothers and Sisters, now is the opportune time for us to turn back to God. Now, on the cusp of a new year, on the threshold of Advent. Let’s not forget that before Easter, there is Lent and before Christmas, there is Advent. The light of the world is coming, so let us light the candles of Advent in our heart and extinguish the root sins that lurk in the shadows. Let’s furnish it with trappings worthy of a king. And let us make a cord and ask Jesus to root out all that is unwholesome, all that is dedicated to material goods, all that replaces the Creator with the created – until there is no room for anything even remotely unholy in our hearts.

[Readings: 1 Mc 4:36-37, 52-59; Lk 19:45-48]

D'Souza Family

The D’Souza family who go by the moniker, Unity Flame, consists of Patrick and Juliet and their three daughters, Naomi, Nicole, and Nadine. Patrick and Juliet spent their formative years in India and have been married 26 years. Being a missionary is at the heart of their family. Patrick and Juliet are members of the Regnum Christi movement, have homeschooled their children, and have been active members of their parish church and small Catholic community. Their daughters have been active participants as in the Challenge girls clubs, which emphasize formation, friendship with Christ, and virtue-driven leadership programs. Naomi and Nadine have each spent a “gap” year between high school and college as missionaries in the Philippines and Atlanta. Contact: Pjdsouza@yahoo.com

Leave a Comment





Subscribe!

Recent Posts

Categories