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For Candlemas: “Let there be light”

For Candlemas: “Let there be light” February 2, 2015

From my homily for The Presentation of the Lord in 2014: 

This is a moment for cherishing once more the greatest gift that arrived 40 days ago on Christmas. The gift of our salvation. The gift of Christ.

The gift of light.

The holy and aged Simeon in today’s gospel said as much, when he finally beheld what the world has been waiting 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.”

He wasn’t talking about the Super Bowl.

No, the really big event we mark today, the truly important one, recalls something as old as time itself.

In Genesis, you’ll remember, God’s first words speak to a formless world bathed in shadow. From nothing, he created everything, and he began his creation with those simple, profoundly important words:

“Let there be light.”

It would be countless generations after that—after man’s fall, and his wanderings, and his exile and his despair and his sin—before light would again come into a world lost in darkness.

But then came Christmas. The birth of Christ offered us a second Genesis. Once more, with the Incarnation, God whispered words that began a new creation, “Let there be light.”

Now, Candlemas remembers that, and it does this at a moment when we might be tempted to forget. Let’s be honest: it’s 40 days after the holiday. The decorations have come down. The gifts have been returned or forgotten. The toys have been broken. The last of the fruitcake has been thrown out. We’ve stopped singing carols about joy and glory and wonder. It looks like we’re back into the dead of winter.

But Candlemas says: wait. You’re wrong. The light still burns. A flame defies the dark. Bring forth a candle and let’s share in that light.

It’s been an ancient custom in the Church to bless candles on this feast—hence, the name. We are at the halfway point between the shortest day of the year, in December, and the Spring equinox in mid-March. The blessing of candles gives us encouragement for the remaining days of winter. It offers us the profound hope that we will be sustained by holy light—and uplifted and guided by the Greatest Light, the light that is Christ.

This feast cries out to us: Christmas was just the beginning. There is more.

It says, to those who are tempted to despair during these cold dark days: there is still light.

To those who have forgotten the bright promise of a star: there is still light.

To anyone who fears, or who worries, or who wonders about what the future may hold: there is still light!

More than light, there is hope. Unto us a child has been born, a son has been given: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

Our fallen world has been redeemed. Forty days ago, the angel told the shepherds: do not be afraid. Now, all these weeks later, the feast we celebrate today repeats that message.

…We shouldn’t let this opportunity get away, this chance to recall the hope that was born in our hearts in December. The flame still burns.

There is much more over at The Anchoress. Check it out. 


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