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Sunday was the Feast of the Presentation, when Christians recall the day Joseph and Mary presented the baby Jesus at the temple, offering Him back to God the Father. It is a mystery, like so many others, in which Christ in a sense returns home.
We do not belong to ourselves. Though so many choices are afforded to us to shape our own lives, our lives ultimately belong to our Creator. Our children are gifts for us to steward on His behalf. All of our many gifts are for giving again, including the gift of life itself.
Sunday also was Candlemas, a celebration adopted from the Eastern tradition involving blessing of candles.
Prayer candles are a beautiful, peaceful tradition shared by various faiths from time immemorial. Even in the non-deistic faiths of China and Japan, candles represent the communication of the earthly to the heavenly, passing from visible light and smoke into invisible scents and hopes.
In Christianity, candles also represent a great consolation: that light and darkness, good and evil, are not equal forces in an endless war. Rather, God as the Light of the world is entirely beyond resistance. Darkness is merely absence of light, wholly or in part. It is always and effortlessly undone by light’s presence.
Like the candles we hold, Christians are called to carry the Light of Heaven wherever we go, to be beacons of God’s great promise that all darkness will pass away in the fullness of His presence. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. / Whom shall I fear?”
For now, the lights may flicker. But even shining dimly, we are never without effect. Wherever a soul carries the peace of God, there His victory is already with us and life blooms, rearing color from the dark soil.