For us in the northern hemisphere, winter brings shortened days. The sun, when it breaks through the gloomy clouds, burns bright but not all that warm. References to lamps and light and candles in today’s gospel make a lot of sense as we light our lamps in the darkness of morning and yet again in the early evening. Without the long days of summer when the sun provides most of the light we need for most of the day, we appreciate how a single lamp dispels the darkness. How the flame of a single candle can fill a room with warmth.
At our baptism, the priest or deacon handed to our parents and godparents a candle lit from the Easter Candle. He said to them…
Parents and godparents,
this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly.
This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ.
He/she is to walk always as a child of the light.
May he/she keep the flame of faith alive in his/her heart.
When the Lord comes, may he/she go out to meet him
with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
We don’t light a lamp without thinking that it will help guide our way. The light helps us avoid stumbles. It gives us direction. If you have ever been in total darkness, you know a light provides a sense of where we are in relation to other people and objects. We often say, “We’ll leave a light on for you,” as a way to convey our hope that a loved one will safely come home.
The light of Christ burns within each of us. It is the joy we know, the kindness extended, the love shared. Our lamp is placed high on the lampstand when we say “thank you” to the store clerk or waitress, when we call a friend to simply say hello, or when we write a note of condolence. The light of Christ that burns within us can truly light up another’s life. That is why we have been given the light…so that it will be shared.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.