The English version of Philippians 2:15: “That you may be blameless and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
The Latin version: “Ut sitis sine querella et simplices filii Dei, sine reprehensione, in medio nationis pravae et perversae; inter quos lucetis sicut luminaria in mundo.”
So there you go. Hassling Catholics about setting out luminaria has gone out of fashion, but yup, it’s a Bible reference thing. (Luminaria is also the word used in Genesis, Psalms, and Ezekiel for the “lights” in the sky of the Sun, Moon, and stars; in Exodus for the lights in the Temple; and in Judith for the lights carried by the townspeople.)
Meanwhile, taste the Catholic irony. Five hundred thousand shoved-in references to how great the people of God are, when it’s a stupid place to shove it in. One genuine reference to the work of God’s people, and we totally forget about that being one! Gotta love being a generation with no memories of the past!
Wikipedia is of course not always reliable, but it has some interesting articles on various forms of luminaria used in New Mexico: vigil bonfires lit during Las Posadas, lanterns, and the familiar candles in sand-filled paper bags.