In our newspaper recently was an article that mentioned that the feast of Christmas and the feast of Hanukkah coincide this year. The first day of Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 24. Hanukkah celebrates that a small band of Jews, led by Judah Maccabees, defeated a much larger army and reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem. It also observes the miracle of one day supply of oil to light the menorah in that temple that lasted eight days. What joy for the Jewish people!
The liturgical readings for the week leading up to Christmas have been full of joy. Wednesday we had the beautiful reading from the Song of Songs between the Lover and the Beloved. What joy for the couple! The Gospel was the story of Mary, after just saying her “Yes” to God, traveled to see her cousin, Elizabeth. I am sure that Elizabeth and Mary were full of joy for each other. Even the baby, John, leaped in his mother’s womb for joy.
The “O Antiphon” for December 21 is “O Oriens” or “O Eastern Morning Sun.” On this day when we sing of the Eastern Morning Sun we have the winter solstice, the beginning of the astronomical winter and the day with the shortest amount of sunlight in the northern hemisphere. What joy to know that days will begin to have more sunlight!
Just as we have the beginning of winter here in the northern hemisphere, summer begins in the southern hemisphere. One of our Sisters from Chile, who has been studying English here in the U.S for nine months, returned to Chile on Wednesday. What joy for her, for our other Sisters there and for her family!
There is much darkness in the world with terrorist attacks, wars, nations divided, famine, drought, etc. We truly do need to keep this in our prayers and thoughts. Besides that, we need to be that joy to the world in our lives. And, I think, especially at this time of the year, we need to keep in mind the song of the angels that we read at the “Midnight” Mass for Christmas: “Do not be afraid: for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11). All is not dark, for Christ, the Light of World, was born. What a joy to celebrate this at Christmas!
– Blog entry by Sister Ann Clark