Friday, March 23, 2012

Knowing your history

Today's gospel makes reference to the "Feast of Tabernacles" (sukkot). Not a spring festival in the Hebrew Calendar but a Fall Festival, a harvest festival, literally the in-gathering. This year it begins Oct 1. For seven dates the people gives thanks for what they have received from God's bounty.

As important to the festival is its commemoration of the 40 years wandering in the desert. To mark this they eat outside in a sukkah, a temporary dwelling, reminiscent of the tents of their ancestors. It must have 2 1/2 walls that will not blow away and the roof should be made of something that has grown from the ground (branches).

We must be careful as Christians, particularly when reading John's gospel. Because of the time when it was written, it tends to paint a dark picture of those he simply refers to as "the Jews" and was at various times used out of context as a basis for antisemitism. Blessed John Paul dedicated a great deal of his life to healing the wounds of the past and we should continue to strive to understand more deeply the faith from which our own faith grew.