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Jesus said to his disciples, ‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’
Every baptism service ends with the Giving of a Lighted Candle. That light is taken from the Paschal Candle of that year. What makes a baptism candle special is the markings that can be seen on it. There is a cross, representing the sacrifice Christ made in order that he might conquer death by rising again from the tomb. There are the Greek letters Alpha and Omega. These two letters, the first and last of the Greek alphabet, represent Christ’s presence from the dawn of time until the moment when all time will cease. There is a symbol representing water. Water is necessary for life to continue and it is used to cleanse and renew. Finally, there is the symbol of the dove. This is a universal symbol representing the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us. The baptism candle is then crowned with the light that was first lit as the Church celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ in its Easter Vigil. The light of the baptism candle is given to both illuminate and protect the life of the one who has been baptised. The baptism candle is very special indeed.
In today’s reading we are told of the importance of that light. The light of Christ is meant to shine out in this world. Those who are called into the company of Christ’s faithful people, that is all who are baptised, are called to bear that light wherever they go, thus ensuring that the light of Christ may overcome the darkness of evil and sin.
In the baptism service, candidates for baptism or their godparents promise to reject the devil and the corruption of evil. While this language may seem to reek of medieval superstition, it is as relevant today as it ever was. There is much evil in this world. But, that evil cannot resist the power of the light of Christ.
As the lit baptism candle is given to the one who has been baptised, these words are said: Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father. The light of Christ’s resurrection power is not meant to be hid away. That light should shine out in all that we say and do. The power of God will overcome all that seeks to extinguish the Light of Christ. It is for us to play our part in ensuring that that Light is neither extinguished nor hidden out of sight.
Let us pray that we might be faithful to the promises made by us, or on our behalf, in our baptisms. Let us pray that we might be faithful bearers of the Light of Christ as we journey along the dark pathways of this world. Let us pray that others may be drawn to that light and thus increase those who can claim to be saved by Jesus, our Lord and our God.