SERMON OF THE WEEK
November 11, 2012
Next Sunday is known asHoodosh Eetho Sunday. It refers to the custom of dedicating our churches to God. The Feast of Dedication was a Jewish festival in commomoration of the second destruction of the Jerualem Temple. This rededication is an annual event during the beginning of the Jewish calendar year.
Gospel reading is from John 10:22-30
Next Sunday is Hoodosh Eetho Suday, the day set apart for the dedication of our churches to God again. Last Sunday, Koodosh Eatho, we were called upon for purification of ourselves. On this Sunday, our churches along with each and every one of us is called upon for re-dedication to God.
The first line in today's gospel reads, "Then came the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem. It was winter." For the Jews at that time, the Feast of Dedication commemorated how the Jerusalem Temple, the most holy and revered place of worship, had been dedicated to the God of Israel after having been desecrated by the Syrian-Greek pagans as recorded in the First Book of Maccabees.
The book of Maccabees 1 describes the rededication of the Temple, which took place after Judah the Maccabee and his men conquered Jerusalem, and the institution of the holiday of Hanukkah. Thereafter, Judah undertook a policy of fighting against Israel’s neighbors who had supported the Hellenists and the Seleucids. But after the death of Antiochus IV in 164 B.C.E., the Seleucids again turned their attention to Judea.
1 Maccabees 4:36-41 reads: "Then said Judas and his brothers, “Behold, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.” 37 So all the army assembled and they went up to Mount Zion. 38 And 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. 39 Then they rent their clothes, and mourned with great lamentation, and sprinkled themselves with ashes. 40 They fell face down onthe ground, and sounded the signal on the trumpets, and cried out to Heaven. 41 Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel 115 until he had cleansed the sanctuary."
For a thousand years the glorious Jerusalem temple, built by King Solomon, stood as the central focal point of the Jewish world, dedicated each year to make their offerings to God fresh. Even though the Temple was glorious and beautiful, the sacrifices offered there was incomplete. It was incomplete for the reason that the blood of animals did not cleanse the people's hearts.
The Temple is perceived as a foreshadow of the Church that Jesus built. As people began to turn away their hearts away from what God has prized more than any sacrifices, that their sacrifices became a broken spirit. But the mysterious body of the Church that Jesus built would never perish as Jesus promised, "The gates of hell shall never prevail against it."
All that was incomplete in the Old Testament became filled by Jesus in the New Covenant. Christ offered his own blood for the atonement and renewal of man. Thus the blood offerings made in the Temple were no longer necessary as they had been the shadow of things to come. In the Old Testament, forefathers celebrated the Feast of Dedication to commit the Temple to God. In remembering that dedication, the Holy Church of Jesus Christ considers the death and resurrection of Christ fulfilled and completed all that was being anticipated in the Temple. The one true offering for our sins was offered up on the cross at Calvary. When that is completed, the Church becomes complete, but the people in the church still remains incomplete. The Church, like the Temple, is filled with fallen people. We dedicate ourselves to God as we come together to worship on this Sunday. In dedicating ourselves to God, we offer up to Jesus as we were commanded with the Cross in our
hearts and submit to the Church that Jesus established. Let's listen to today's gospel passage. Jesus says (in versus. 27-28), "My sheep, hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
Let's give ourselves completely to Jesus as sheep to a shepherd. That's Hoodosh Eetho.
Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil