Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, martyrs
(I Maccabees 4:36-37.52-59; Luke 19:45-48)
Today Vietnamese Catholics celebrate their heroes. St. Andrew Dung-Lac and companion martyrs gave their lives rather than relinquish their Christian faith. These “ultimate sacrifices” have made it possible for their descendants to look forward to eternal life. The celebration is similar to that described in the mass’s first reading.
The passage tells of how the Jews burnt offerings and sang hymns of praise for eight days. They were celebrating the rededication of the Temple that had been desecrated by pagan overlords. Many valiant Jews died in the hostilities that liberated the land from foreign rule. In his day Jesus too celebrated the feast, which is commonly known as Hanukkah.
More important, for our purposes today at least, is Jesus’ great sensibility for the Temple itself. As the meeting place of God and humanity, he chases the money changers from its confines. His followers will later note how Jesus himself is the prime referent for our encounter with God. In this sense he has replaced the Temple with his flesh and blood. Nevertheless, Christians still need places to pray so they construct temples, which we usually call “churches.” Still at the dedication of a Catholic church it is always Jesus who is glorified.