Dear St. John Parish Family,
As I’m writing this article, we are celebrating the Presentation of our Lord, also known as Candlemas. In some traditions, this would have been the official end to the Christmas season—a whole 40 days after our celebration of the Nativity of Jesus. So there’s no shame in keeping up your Christmas decorations a little longer!
During Candlemas, the priest blesses candles that will be used that year. As he blesses them, we remember the ultimate Light, which is Jesus. We recently read in the Bishop’s Year of the Bible the passage from the first chapter of John, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it” (John 1:5). This is the Light that Simeon and Anna both recognized on the day of the presentation. Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be consecrated at the Temple, as faithful Jews. The very presence of the baby Jesus was enough to stir something in Simeon and Anna. They both knew they were seeing The Light of the World, the Messiah, and they were attracted to it.
That’s the reality for all of us though, isn’t it? There is something about light that we are all drawn to. Whether you’re a skilled photographer, able to capture a stunning scene bathed in natural light, or my old cat, George, who liked to spend his days lying flat on his back in a patch of sunlight on the carpet of my tiny apartment; light draws us all in.
Maybe it’s the winter or the fact that these past 11 months have been long and uncertain, but I’m craving light now more than ever. I think our whole world is. The beautiful thing about our faith is that this light that I’m seeking isn’t something that is fleeting like sunshine in a Michigan winter—it’s everlasting, in the person of Jesus.
We have the opportunity to encounter this Everlasting Light every day. The beauty of Jesus coming as one of us, as an infant, is that it shows us that we can find Him in even the simplest of places: an authentic smile, an offer to help someone in need, genuine laughter from a family member, a deep conversation with a friend, a simple but honest prayer; all of these are places to encounter His Light, a light that cannot be overcome by the darkness.
A question that I like to reflect on is, am I like Simeon and Anna, able to recognize this Light when presented with it? Or am I too caught up with the demands of daily life that I breeze by Him?
Yet this invitation goes even deeper than just seeking after the Light of Christ. Because once Jesus began His ministry, what did He say to His followers as He preached? “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14; emphasis added). Not only are we called to bask in the Light, we are called to embody it.
This is a very simple lesson that we learn as kids, right along with the lyrics to the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” However, it’s one that we often forget as we get older. Being the Light can require us taking risks, going out of our comfort zone, or just choosing to continue to find hope in an ever-increasingly cynical world. It’s not always an easy task.
The more we seek to encounter His Light, the easier it is to reflect it. The more that I am drawn into His love, the easier it is to extend it. It will always cause a chain reaction. My invitation to us all, especially as we draw closer to Lent, is to let ourselves be drawn into that Light, so not only will we be closer to Him but we will become more of who we are meant to be.
To reflecting together,
Coordinator of Youth Faith Formation