Every February 2nd the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. On this day we remember Joseph and Mary bringing the infant Jesus to the temple according to the law of the Lord (Luke 2:22-40). It is an ancient custom to bless candles on this feast. The blessed candles are then used throughout the year. The candles and their symbolism and significance work on many levels.
Just as Joseph and Mary carried the infant Jesus (the light of the world) into the temple so we now, through our baptisms, carry the light of Christ within us. Sometimes this light burns strong and true but there are times when the light seems weak and close to going out. These can be times of struggle and difficulty. In these moments we might wonder how we can keep the light of faith lit when there seems to be such upheaval all about.
The antiphon used for the feast’s responsorial psalm (Ps. 24) is significant in this regard I believe. The antiphon says, “Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord!” If we hold fast to this proclamation and enthrone it in our hearts then no matter how much circumstances and the world rage around us the light that is within us will remain. It will never be extinguished. In this proclamation all things are put in proper perspective. God is God and all else is not. The light will remain and we ourselves will shine with the light of Christ.
Reflecting on this feast and the light of Christ, Blessed Guerric of Igny offers these words: “Come then, my brethren, give an eye to that candle burning in Simeon’s hands. Light your candles too by borrowing from that Light; for these candles I speak of are the lamps which the Lord orders us to have in our hands. Come to him and be enlightened, so as to be not merely carrying lamps but to be very lamps yourselves, shining inside and out, for yourselves and for your neighbors. Be a lamp then in heart, in hand, in lips.”