Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

(Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-32)

We call today’s feast the “Presentation of the Lord,” but traditionally it has been known as “Candlemas Day.” For centuries on this day churches blessed all the candles that they would use in the course of the year. The inspiration for this grand dedication is Simeon’s declaration in today’s gospel that the baby Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” He is the Israelite through whom Isaiah’s vision of world unity and peace will be fulfilled.

Jesus is the flame – light and heat in a cold, dark world, but he is not the whole candle. The trunk of the candle, its wax, is humanity. Like wax humans have fat -- their pride, greed, hatred, and lust -- to be burned away. Jesus, the consuming fire, rids us of these vices as he allows us to participate in his illumination. With our lives so chastened, we are rendered sincere – a word coming from two Latin words meaning “without wax.”