This week, we are experiencing the shortest days of the year, when darkness abounds and daylight is most scarce. Yet, all of our winter holidays focus on light. Why is that? One reason may be that in the absence of sunlight, we have no choice but to turn inward and find a different light source.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates an extraordinary event that took place in Palestine two centuries before the birth of Jesus. Although there was only enough oil to keep the temple lights burning for a single night, those lights remained illuminated for eight nights. How was that possible?
For the Jewish people, there is only one answer: The light that appeared in their temple did not emanate from the burning of oil but from an altogether different source. Those who witnessed the miracle understood that they were seeing a divine light, and there is only one such light. It is called love! For eight nights, the temple was illuminated by the same love that fills a parent’s heart and inspires every creative pursuit.
This same light is at the heart of Christmas, which celebrates the birth of the ultimate messenger of love. The arrival of Jesus represents the advent of an important new era in human history. Ironically, that era has yet to be realized fully, even after two millennia. An Age of Love is waiting to be born on this planet. And what exactly is the delay? The answer is: You and I.
Until we internalize the most important spiritual teaching that has ever been given, we remain on the brink of a crucial step in the evolution of our species. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” The source and essence of all things, including the light of love, abides in our own hearts. And how do we tap into that source? When asked to name the most important commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Then he added a second commandment, which he considered equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
To love God is to love one another, and vice versa. That is because the Kingdom of God is in you as in me as in all things. Nobody needs to earn our love. The love that Jesus describes is unconditional, which means that we give and receive it freely, regardless of what the beloved says, does, or thinks. Every person we encounter merits our love for one very simple reason: They are an embodiment of the Creator.
The moment we grasp this teaching fully, we change the world in the most powerful and irreversible way imaginable. War, poverty, and injustice vanish overnight. Do I believe that such a revolution is possible? With all my heart, I do! And is it inevitable? That depends entirely on us.
So, in this beautiful holiday season, you and I can usher in an Age of Love on this Earth. That is my holiday wish for all of us. May the light of love fill our hearts, now and always. Many blessings and happy holidays!
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