The Triumph of Light over Darkness
Our Jewish neighbors began Hanukkah last night . . . A blessed one to all!
We Catholics and Jews have a lot in common, and the meaning of the two grand feasts of Christmas and Hanukkah is one of them.
Both celebrate the triumph of light over darkness.
If I understand Jewish traditions properly, the eight days of Hanukkah celebrate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem which had been savagely defiled by Antiochus of Syria. The oil for the eight candles of the Menorah was enough, the experts warned, for only one night, not the necessary eight. But the people who trusted that God would provide won, and the oil for the candles lasted all eight nights, providing light in the darkest time of the year.
However, I am somewhat of an expert on Catholic tradition! And Christmas is our “festival of lights” as well, as we celebrate the nativity of Jesus, the one who called Himself “the light of the world.” As we’ll hear at Midnight Mass, when the Bible is proclaimed, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
The Menorah, the Advent Wreath, the star at Bethlehem, the lights on the tree – – all point to the hint of light showing us the way these very days when the sun is at its lowest and the brightness of day the shortest.
Whether you’re Jewish, Catholic, another faith, or none at all, everyone agrees we need light today, as the world often seems dark and dreary.
Advent and Christmas grace!
Let the light triumph over darkness!
(By the way, a powerful sacrament that helps Catholics overcome the darkness of sin and opens our hearts to the light of God’s mercy is Confession. It’s Reconciliation Monday this December 18, and all our parishes will have confessions available from 4 – 8 p.m.)