Some would argue that the Philippines celebrate the Christmas season longer than most countries. Filipinos would start decorating, and sing Christmas songs when “ber” months start. One of the things that we can now is the Christmas lights.
In Israel there is a Festival of Lights or known as Hanukkah. It is a Jewish festival that commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem from the hands of the Seleucids. The Maccabees led the revolt and its subsequently resulted into the rededication of the Second Temple. This happened during the inter-testamental period.
This year the Hanukkah is celebrated from November 28 to December 6, 2021.
What can we learn from this celebration?
First, we must rededicate our lives to God.
Hanukkah means rededication. There were many times that Israel has forgotten God. The result was always disastrous to them as we can read in the Old Testament.
This event has taught them to rededicate their lives to God every year. Jesus has attended this event as attested by John 10 when He attended the Feast of Dedication.
So, as Christians, we must dedicate our lives to God, and make constant rededication along the way.
Second, we must let our light shine as Jesus commanded us to do.
In the center of the celebration of Hanukkah is the menorah or a candle holder with nine branches. According to Jewish tradition, God caused a miracle that allowed the one-day supply of oil to last the full eight days so that the dedication would be complete.
In their celebration, the Jews would light the the candle one at a time for 8 nights. They light it starting from the highest candle. On the next day, the next candle would be lighted from the higher candle to the next one until it is all finished after 8 nights. Blessings are proclaimed during the lighting ceremony.
This Festival of Lights or Festival of Dedication is very symbolical for Christians. Jesus is the Light of the world. The light was passed on from one disciple into another until it reached us. We must continue the passing on of the light that this dark world will be enlightened.
Happy Hanukkah everyone!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Director, Office of Communications