by Rev. Fr. Jose Chemmanam
The Holy Church celebrates two important Festivals in the beginning of the new liturgical year.
1) Festival of Sanctfication(Koodosh eetho)
2) Festival of Dedication (Hoodosh eetho)
We can see the background of this festival in the book of 1st Maccabeas.
After the death of Alexander the Great, the Assyrian king Antiochus Epiphanus subjugated Syria, Palestine and Egypt and established Assyrian kingdom. He was a great lover of Greek religion and culture. He considered himself a missionary of Hellenism. He thought it was his duty to convert all people to Greek religion and culture. Most of the Jews were against this and they were a real blockade to his intentions. They were not ready to sacrifice their traditional religion. Therefore Antiochus Epiphanus decided to eliminate Jewish religion once for all and introduce Greek ways of thought, religion and culture into Palestine.
For this, first, he tried peaceful penetration of the Hellenistic ideas. Only very few were attracted and most were stubbornly loyal to their ancestral faith. And the deluge came in 167 BC. Antiochus came with a big army, attacked Jerusalem, plundered the city and more than 80,000 Jews persecuted. Then he entered Jerusalem temple and looted it. All valuables - gold, silver, temple utensils - were stolen.
Further he did many wicked things:
1) He gave capital punishment for all who kept the copy of the Law and killed those who circumcised their children.
2) Mothers who circumcised their children were crucified with their children hanging round their necks.
3) The Jerusalem temple was terribly desecrated. He entered the Holy of Holies, offered swine or pig sacrifices to pagan Gods.
Thus the holy temple was totally plundered, looted, desecrated and ten thousands were killed or taken into slavery.
But after three years - the Jewish king Maccabeus and his brother arose, formed an army and revolted against Antiochus and finally defeated him and captured Jerusalem back. He cleansed and purified the temple, the Altar was rebuilt, and robes and utensils were replaced after three years of desecration. It was to commemorate this purification of the temple that the festival of purification and dedication were observed. This we read in 1st Maccabeas Chapter 4 verse 59. "The days of the dedication of altar should be kept in their season from year to year, by the span of eight years with gladness and joy".
The Jews called it Hanukka festival in Hebrew and in Syriac it was Hoodos eetho. The Christian church took it and celebrates the feasts at the beginning of church calendar.
What is the relevance of this festival?
The Holy church is sanctified and dedicated - forever - by the blood and seal of Christ Jesus. But we live in a sinful world. Sin gets into our - (personal, community and church) - life again and again. So there is a need for our cleansing and dedicating - again and again - that is the road to perfection. Though we are the temple of God we desecrate it by so many ways - in words, deeds and thoughts. We forget our vocation and call. We forget Christian values, forget to follow Jesus and forget the way of the Cross. We are rolling in earthly pleasures, blind to spiritual vision, addicted to worldly riches and we are not afraid of divine wrath and punishments. We are degenerating. So we need cleansing and purifying. Therefore, let us celebrate these festivals sincerely and be cleansed. And that which is sanctified is fit to be dedicated to almighty god. May God bless all of us through the guidance of Holy Spirit.
Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the Hoodosh Eatho Sunday
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