Advent Calendar Day 8: Miracle

Shema Yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai ehad.

In Israel, in the days before the birth of Jesus, the Maccabees earned the liberation of their homeland through blood and courage.  Judah the Hammer reclaimed the Holy Temple from Antiochus Epiphanes, the abomination of desolation against whom Daniel prophesied, and the story is that the insufficient stores of oil miraculously lasted long enough to keep the temple menorah lit for eight nights.

In Jesus’ day this was recent history, and to the subjects of an occupying foreign power it must have been significant history.  Every outlaw, rebel and Zealot guerrilla in the Judean hills could have had the image of Judas Maccabeus in mind, and John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus visited Jerusalem during the festival celebrating the dedication of the temple, what Josephus called the festival of lights.

People say “happy holidays” not because there’s a war on Christmas, but because Christians share this nation and this planet with others, and our brothers of different faiths hold other days holy.  Tonight begins the celebration of Hanukkah, and as we are likewise People of the Book (as our Muslim brethren put it), it behooves us to take a moment to honor Maccabean courage and Maccabean faithfulness as Jesus did when he walked among us, and to celebrate together with our Jewish brothers and sisters.  Shalom.

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