Friday, December 20, 2013

Why December 25th?

One of our Sisters has a great interest in the “Hebrew Roots” of our Catholic faith.  Based on her biblical research, she has an explanation of why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th.  I personally, have a somewhat different opinion, but I will give her a hearing.  In a Franciscan community, we excel in diversity!  And we aspire to unity which is not the same as uniformity.  So, here is my beloved Sister’s contribution:

Why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?  There is a reason, and a very profound biblical answer to this question.  When the elderly priest Zachariah went to offer incense in the Temple in the 34th week of the year which would be in the Jewish month of Tishri on the feast of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, his encounter with the Angel Gabriel occurred.  At the end of his priestly duties he returned home and Elizabeth conceived.  The small child was destined to point out the Lamb of God who atoned for the sins of the world.  What better time could divine providence choose for the one who was destined to be the forerunner of the Lord?  Nine months after Tishri, we reach the Jewish month of Tammuz, June/July.  And that is why the Church celebrates John’s birth on June 25th.  The Angel Gabriel came to Mary when Elizabeth was in her 6th month, Nisan or March/April which would be Passover.  So our Paschal Lamb was conceived on Passover and nine months later he came forth as the light of the world on December 25th which is the Jewish Feast of Lights, Chanukah.

May we follow the daughter of Zion, Mother of the Word, who kept pondering all these things in her heart.  And by imitating her simple obedient biblical faith, may we too become a light bearer to the world.

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