Simeon said, “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
Today is the feast of the presentation of the Lord. It is also a day to bless candles.
For the Jewish people, candles have always played a significant role in their worship of God. It was King Solomon who placed ten golden lampstands before the inner sanctuary of the great temple. Five candles pointing south and five pointing north. The menorah would eventually become the universal sign of the Jewish people.
While our group was touring the Holy Land, we stopped at Cana to visit the recently discovered ruins of an ancient synagogue. The city of Cana is near Capharnaum and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. It is almost certain that Jesus preached at this synagogue. Among the ruins, the archeologists discovered an ancient stone table used to read the scrolls. Chiseled in the stone is a replica of the temple in Jerusalem with an image of the menorah.
In his commentary on Leviticus, Baruch Levine wrote: “Christian worship in the form of the traditional mass affords the devout an experience of sacrifice, of communion, and proclaims that God is present. The Christian church, then, is a temple.”
The temple is the Church, and the Church is the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ is made up of each and every one of us. The body is the temple of God’s glory. And as the temple was lit with candles, so our temple must be lit with the light of Christ. We are, after all, made in the image and likeness of God!
This little light of mine. Jesus referred to himself in terms of light, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The lamp, therefore, is a symbol of Christ’s presence. But it is also a symbol of Christ’s presence among his followers. The Lord called John the Baptist “a burning and shining lamp” (Jn 5:35). He told his followers, “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14).
Whenever the Gospel is read, the candles are lit. Whenever Mass is celebrated, the candles are lit. Whenever a person prays before an image of a Saint, a candle is lit. Whoever lives like Jesus enlightens the hearts and minds of those who live around him. We have been called, like Simeon, to be a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.
Last November, a group of Catholic men and women, created an iphone application for Catholics called Ignio (latin for Ignite). I won’t tell you all about it, but I would invite all Christians, of all ages, to download this free app and help break the spell of darkness that engulfs this world!
Our lives were not meant to be wasted or burned out. No! In fact, our lives were meant to bathe in His light and share it with others.
Now go, and set the world on fire!