JESUS CELEBRATES SUKKOT IN JERUSALEM
FROM THE GOSPEL READING AT MASS ON THURSDAY
"Jesus said to his disciples;
''Ask, and it will be given to you;
search, and you will find;
knock, and the door will be opened to you.
For the one who asks always receives;
the one who searches always finds;
the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.'" Luke 11
In the Jewish Calendar, it is coming to the end of a week’s celebration of SUKKOT, also called (in the New Testament especially) "Booths", or Tabernacles".
Sukkot began last Friday evening, and will end this weekend, this Sabbath.
The final day of Sukkot is a holiday called Simchat Torah, "rejoicing with the Torah". In present-day Judaism, the Torah scrolls (which contain the text of the five books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible) are taken out of The Ark and carried through the synagogue. There is singing and dancing and an overall mood of joyous festivity, rejoicing in God's Law presented through Moses to the Jewish people. In Jesus' time
the last day of the festival was indeed important, but wasn't a celebration of the Torah.
Jesus Himself celebrated Sukkot - for instance in John chapter 7 (verse 2 onwards).
He took Himself off to Jerusalem to make a personal pilgrimage,
which gave Him opportunity to share His message with other pilgrims in the Temple.
The Jewish holiday of Sukkot represents the journey of the Israelites
through the desert, the Exodus from Egypt.
During this time, people lived in booths (in Hebrew: "sukkot").
It is therefore customary to build a sukkah (booth) before this holiday,
and to eat and even sleep in the sukkah during the eight days.
The walls may be of almost any material (cement, wood, cloth, etc.),
but the roof is traditionally covered with branches,
in order to let the stars shine through.
The temporary nature of the Sukkah is a reminder of the human limited life- span.
The uncompleted roof presents to us our vulnerability,
and the fruit and vegetable decoration remind us of God's provision,
and that, whether life is good or bad, it is our duty to give thanks to God
for the good, and to share with God our need for His help and His guidance
through the bad.
One essential element of the holiday of Sukkot is hospitality,
an open door to others not of your household.
Guests are invited to sit in the sukkah and to share a meal.
Our Gospel passage reminds us, as does this time of Sukkot for Jews,
that God is our provision for all our needs.
Sukkot reminds us that it is our duty and our joy to be thankful for the good,
and to ask God's help when things are not so good.
Jesus reminds us that God is our Father, always there, but not interfering;
like a good parent allowing us to get on with our lives,
but there when we need help, wisdom and guidance.
Jesus wants us to come to God with our problems
and the things we worry about.
He says to us in this Gospel passage from Luke 11: “ Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you".
Whenever a door is closed to you,
pray that it might open to present the right opportunity.
What are the things that worry you?
Ask God to take away your worry, don’t hang on to it, hand it over to Him. “A problem shared is a problem halved”.
Who do you know who needs your prayers? Be the one that intercedes on their behalf, and ask Our Lord to help you be a blessing to others.
Rabbi Arthur Waskov, in his article “The Sukkah of Shalom,” published in September 20, 2004, wrote "In our evening prayers throughout the year, just as we prepare to lie down in vulnerable sleep, we plead with God, “Spread over us Your sukkah of shalom of peace and safety.”
"For much of our lives we try to achieve peace and safety by building with steel and concrete and toughness; pyramids, Pentagons, World Trade Centres.
The sukkah reminds us: we are all vulnerable.
On 9/11 the ancient truth came home. We all live in a sukkah. Even the widest oceans, the mightiest buildings, the wealthiest balance sheets, the most powerful weapons did not shield us. The choice we face is broader than politics, deeper than charity. It is whether we see the world chiefly as property to be controlled, defined by walls and fences that must be built ever higher, ever thicker, ever tougher; or made up chiefly of an open weave of compassion and connection, open sukkah to open sukkah. . .We must spread over all of us the sukkah of shalom."
Jesus reminds us that, in our vulnerability, God is there,
guiding us through the desert of life,
holding us when we fall,
being a life-line for us when we go adrift, sheltering us from all that can harm, hearing our prayers,
aiding us as we seek provision,
helping us to find what we seek,
opening doors into new and better opportunities.
Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than either we desire or deserve: pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.