The Festival of Candlemas (or the Presentation of Christ in the Temple) marks the end of the Church’s season of Christmas.
- Today we recall Jesus being in the Temple (as laid down in Jewish law) to be offered to God (Jesus’ heavenly Father) and to be presented to his people.
- Today we take a final look back at Christ’s birth.
- Today we turn from the stable in Bethlehem towards the agony of the cross, and the joy of the resurrection.
Like us, Simeon lived in a world that was in desperate need of the Light of Christ. But … 2000 years ago, Simeon did come to see that light in the form of a baby held in the arms of his earthly parents.
Before the birth of Jesus people yearned for salvation from poverty and oppression … Jesus was (and is) that salvation.
As we turn from the wood of the lowly manger to the wood of the ignominious and triumphant cross, we need the precious Light of Christ to illumine our path.
Jesus said: I am the Light of the world.
Jesus also said: You are the light of the world.
These words encapsulate the essence of what it means to be a Christian. We are called to shine in this world … but not in our own strength. We are called to set aside our sense of self-importance, and to reflect that wonderful Light of Christ.
Sadly, it is often difficult (and especially in these Coronavirus days) to see the Light of Christ … let alone reflect it!
It is easy to see the Divine Light shining where there is kindness, generosity, bravery … old fashioned ‘normality’.
It is NOT so easy to see the Divine Light when we are confronted with inhumanity, homelessness, hunger, lockdown, isolation, sheltering and a future of certain change and transformation.
Of course, God has the answer to our bouts of spiritual pessimism … and that answer is Christian love.
Just a little of that precious loving light can make such an enormous difference … our reflection of the loving Light of Christ may just be the light at the end of someone else’s long and dark tunnel of despair.
And that is God’s call to all of us … to light up the lives of others with Christian love and joy.
Throughout Advent, Christmas and Epiphany we often here these words from the prophet Isaiah: Arise, shine, for your light has come. Those words are not just a poetic description of the baby whose birth was revealed to shepherds and kings … they are also part of God’s challenge to us all. We are the ones called to arise and shine.
The Light of Christ is seen –
- wherever we can overcome greed with generosity …
- whenever we squeeze hatred out with love …
- wherever we can overwhelm violence with peace …
- whenever despair gives way to hope.
Christ’s light and love works miracles when we let it fill our hearts and bind us together on our journey of discipleship.
We need to ask ourselves whether we are ready to be dazzled, and to declare from the bottom of our hearts: my eyes have seen your salvation.
Are we ready to go out there and reflect the Light of Christ in all that we say, and think, and do?
Are we ready to Arise and Shine in the service of the One who gave his earthly life for all of us?