Light in the darkness…what an appropriate Hanukkah theme coming out of this past election in the U.S.! We’ve just been through a momentous election here in the U.S. where apparently we see forces lining up against the Church and religious freedom. It is timely to consider Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication and of Deliverance, and why this is such an important feast for both the Jewish community and the Catholic/Christian community. Hanukkah starts the evening of December 8 and runs 8 days. As we consider the themes of this Feast, it will become obvious why it is important for all Christians and Jews to commemorate this Holiday.
In John 10:22-23, the feast of Hanukkah is translated as the Feast of Dedication. This Feast is taken from the story of the Maccabees and their struggle with the Greeks just 100 plus years before the Messiah. Another great irony is that the 2 Books of the Maccabees is not in the modern day Jewish (or Protestant) canon of Scripture but is only in the Catholic and Orthodox canon.
Hanukkah is a time that is filled with Messianic hope. After the victory was won by the Maccabeans and the Temple rededicated, the Jewish people were filled with Messianic hope. Just a few generations later, the Messiah, Jesus, did walk among us as the “Light of the World” (John 8:12). How much more do we need to have the Messianic hope in today’s political and cultural darkness? As Catholics, we are called to be light and salt to a dark and hopeless world. During this Hanukkah, we are reminded to live out this Messianic hope that our Lord and His Church enable us to live.
If you think today’s times are tough, just read the story of the Maccabees and what the Jewish people, the only people of faith in that time, had to endure and how G-d brought about a victory for His people that would lead ultimately to the final victory over sin and death through Jesus the Messiah. We can safely say that without Hanukkah, there would be no Christmas. Let’s rejoice in G-d’s saving power during this time of the year when there is literally more darkness than light, and figuratively when it looks like the forces of darkness are lining up against us. Jesus has won for us the final victory of redemption through his life, death, and resurrection. In Scripture, during the Hanukkah celebration, Jesus clearly proclaims that he is the Messiah and the one who would come to bring about this deliverance (John 10:22-39).
Another theme of Hanukkah is the rededication of the Temple. As Catholics, we who are the Temples of the Holy Spirit are called to continual rededication and conversion. Hanukkah also corresponds roughly with the season of Advent. During Hanukkah and Advent, we are called to rededicate our lives and rekindle the relationship we have with our Lord and Savior and His Church. We grow deeper in our faith and grow in boldness to live out and share the light that only our Messiah can give us and the world. Now is not a time to shrink back but to charge forward with the truth and light. This is the time when our Church and our Havurot around the world can shine with the truth of the Gospel for both Jew and Gentile. Just our very presence is a sign of G-d’s faithfulness to His ancient people and the Church. This is also a potentially dangerous time, so let’s be vigilant in our prayers for one another, our Holy Father, and our Church.
One more theme for Hanukkah is to remember just how important the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob remain to our G-d. Even in the Church, Hebrew Catholics are to be a distinct people who have a distinct calling and connection to both the physical descendants of Israel and to the Church, the fulfillment of Judaism. Assimilation is not part of G-d’s plan for the Jewish people or for Hebrew Catholics. This concept was one of the main ideas of Father Friedman, the founder of the AHC. Hanukkah reminds us that G-d had a plan for the Messiah to come from our people in just a few generations following the Maccabees. Today, we must remember that for His Second Coming, G-d still has a plan for the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His plan encompasses the final resurrection at the end of time. It is important for all Catholics and Christians to remain solid in their love for the Jewish people and for Israel. We are grateful to our Church and her teachings in this regard. (CCC 674)
Part of the darkness we face in today’s world is that of secularism which denies the “calling” of any group, especially that of the Jews and Israel. Make no mistake: This philosophy of men is in direct conflict with the Church and the plan of G-d. We are called to pray and work against this lie wherever we encounter it. So let us remember the fight of the Maccabees, when against incredible odds they were able to overcome the enemy and rededicate the Temple and renew the life of G-d’s people. It might seem at times that we are facing this kind of spiritual battle. Be encouraged that our ancestors faced a similar fight, and with G-d’s help, won and saved Israel for the coming of the Messiah. Maybe it is our turn now as we prepare the way for the 2nd coming our Messiah!?
Finally, when we discuss Hanukkah, one cannot forget about the oil that burned in spite of the small amount left…very reminiscent of the oil and the flour left that the widow shared with Elijah in 1 Kings. G-d provides oil for blessing, sustenance, healing, and light, and oil also signifies the Holy Spirit. As Catholics, oil is used in many of the sacraments to seal individuals with the blessing of those sacraments, as a sort of rededication like the temple rededication! Oil is used for frying and making things delicious and crispy—perhaps adversity perfects and makes more evident the sweetness of G-d’s ways to those we witness to! May the oil of joy fill your hearts and homes as you savor the oil G-d has given you to use for His glory!
Regarding the actual story of Hanukkah, please refer to the Book of Second Maccabees. For a condensed version you can go here on the AHC website:
and here on this excellent website for more information:
We also recommend the video by Bob Fishman from the Hebrew Catholic webstore, found online here
or more of the Messianic Jewish viewpoint we recommend a book by Barney Kasdan, “God’s Appointed Time”. Published by Lederer Messianic Publications and availabble here.
Now for some news around the world from some of our Havurot! We are grateful to those of you who responded to our call to share your experiences in your Havurot…so here they are:
You will see a few attachments to this letter included, and they contain some information from 2 different Havurot around the world. A third letter from the havurah in Toronto will be included in the upcoming issue of “The Hebrew Catholic.” Thanks for sharing, and keep sharing, please.
We hope for those of you who did not get a chance to share this time, that you will be inspired to share next time. You can send via email to Havurah@hebrewcatholic.org
We ask for the intercession of Judah Maccabee, St. Edith Stein, and our Blessed Mother Miriam, upon your Hanukkah and Messiahmas (Christmas) celebrations, and we pray for the light of our Messiah to shine on you, your families, and our Holy Mother Church.
Shalom in our Messiah, the Light of the World. Hag Sameach!
Ken and Flora Wilsker
Hi Ken! Thank you for keeping us on your List… I have some amazing news to report…
after many years of work this has all been coming together quickly in recent weeks…
and our pastor, Fr. Charles Ramirez, is now eager to meet and talk about establishing
our Havurah. In fact, he even started talking about it at a recent Leadership Council
meeting… ( how amazing is that ? ! )
We have become his “go-to” people for Old Testament & Jewish tradition … & teaching RCIA…
and it’s all starting to pay off now…
My meeting with him will be scheduled in the near future and I will update you further then.
So for now… just be aware that the Havurah in Claremont, Southern California is
very Quickly ripening on the vine !
B”H todah rabah !
We are having a 3 week Fall programme starting next week- and will do something for Hanukkah in December.
First week – Dolores will be sharing on her trip to Israel and the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles/Emma will be sharing on her visit to Turkey-Mary’s House in Ephesus and cave of John the Apostle.
Second week – we will be watching a dvd of an Egyptian Muslim who became Christian- at what cost. A great testimony.
ThIrd week – we will be reflecting on the booklet – The Ancient Jewish Wedding- and the Return of the Messiah for His Bride- by Jamie Lash.
On the first of December we are hosting a Christian Friends of Yad Vashem/ICEJ workshop. The material has been sent to us from Yad Vashem – it will be from 10a.m. – 4p.m. on a Saturday. The format is a combination of talks,dvd’s, small group discussions and prayer. There is a Catholic Righteous Gentile living across the road from me so she will be addressing the topic- We Have a Choice.
Please pray that the right people come and that the Holy Spirit is very present. I am not looking for numbers but for commitment to go back into our various groups and start to speak up re anti-Semitism which is growing at an alarming rate. The work-shop participants will be both Catholic and Protestant so prayers for good discernment will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much. Hope all is well with you. Hope Dolores sent you an e-mail re Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. If not her e-mail is Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love and prayers – Gail Mobbs