This is the eighth and final night and day of Hanukkah, the celebration of the intervention of God in the history of the people chosen to be the Lumen gentium, the Light of the Nations, to bring the revelation of God to all mankind. God strengthened the military in two ferocious battles, and then worked a liturgical miracle clearly indicating God’s will.
There is a prayer called Avinu Malkeinu, Our Father, Our King, which expresses an appropriate response to God’s holy will for us all. There are subtitles in the video below. There are different words for different occasions throughout the year, particularly the beginning of the new year (Rosh haShanah). This happens to be the funeral of Shimon Peres some years ago. Don’t let the presence of whatever dignitaries distract you. This is about the prayer. Make it your own:
Hanukkah is not the usual time for this prayer. Hanukkah is a time of joy. However, it seems to me that precisely this prayer is what would inspire the soldiers to get the job done for God and country way back in the day. The battles opened up the taking of the Temple once again. It is this kind of prayer which is transformed into its continuation by way of humble thanksgiving for God’s intervention. God does listen. God does intervene.
But where is God? Where His intervention? Is He listening?
There He is, on the Cross, making all things new, He the Temple, we the living stones in that Temple. His Heart, that Holy of Holies, was pierced through by the soldier. The Holy of Holies was torn open in the Temple by the angels, top to bottom:
- “He yielded up His spirit. At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs broke open, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” (Matthew 27:50b-52)
It’s not that the Holy of Holies in the Temple was desecrated by the angels, but rather that the Holy of Holies, God Himself, was torn asunder, He who stood in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us: “Father, forgive them!” He makes all things new, rising from the dead as a pledge of eternal life for us, His light, His presence, His grace making us one with Himself, this new Temple, having us be with Him a Light to the Nations, the Lumen gentium.
From 1 Maccabees 4:36-59 —
“See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.” So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. There they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. Then they tore their clothes and mourned with great lamentation; they sprinkled themselves with ashes and fell face down on the ground. And when the signal was given with the trumpets, they cried out to Heaven. Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel until he had cleansed the sanctuary. He chose blameless priests devoted to the law, and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt offering, which had been profaned. And they thought it best to tear it down, so that it would not be a lasting shame to them that the Gentiles had defiled it. So they tore down the altar, and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them. Then they took unhewn[d] stones, as the law directs, and built a new altar like the former one. They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple, and consecrated the courts. They made new holy vessels, and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they offered incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple. They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken. Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.”
I did get some holly, but it didn’t work out to hide the LED light clips at the top corners of the stained glass angels. Maybe I can use some of it below the candles. It’s an ongoing project.