Candlemas, also referred to as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is among the ancient feasts being celebrated by the Church and is traditionally done 40-days after the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord.
Light for revelation?
In today’s gospel, Simeon praised God for allowing him to see Jesus, who according to him is a light for revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel. Jesus, as mentioned in the Holy Scripture is the light of the world. The radiance of this light is not only confined to a specific group of people but rather, it reaches even those who do not belong to Israel. As the gentiles live in darkness prior to their acceptance of the revelation about Christ, they too becomes worthy of becoming the people of God upon receiving the good news brought by Jesus to mankind – thus saving them from darkness and bringing them to light. Therefore, although Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise of God to Israel, He came to this world not only to save the Israelites, but also for those who came from the different corners of the world.
Following the light is not an easy thing to do for there are distractions along the way. Although Jesus wanted His followers to be with Him, the challenge is not an easy one especially for us humans who have the tendency of committing sins every now and then. To become worthy of seeing God face to face, we need to be purified. That is why in Church’s teachings, purgatory exists for those who need to be purified and cleansed from even a single blemish of sin before they could see God in heaven. Purgatory, as mentioned by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, is within the four sections of Hell. Although part of Infernus which is loosely translated as Hell in English, purgatory differs from the section which is reserved for those who are eternally damned to be punished by the cohorts of Satan. The latter is referred to as Gehenna. It is in Gehenna where the everlasting fire exists. However in Purgatory, although the people there suffer the torments of fire, they are assured to go to heaven as soon as the tiniest blemish brought by sin is already cleansed. In the first reading, Prophet Malachi stated a message from God which tells that the Lord will come just like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap as He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. As silver ore and gold ore needs to undergo various processes which involves the utilization of fire in order to produce pure gold or silver, the people of God needs to undergo the same purification in order to become worthy of seeing him face to face in Heaven.
Candle of Light
In the Philippines, the celebration is also known as the Candelaria and is highlighted with blessing of candles at the start of the Eucharistic Celebration. Jesus is being compared to a candle since He extinguishes darkness and brings light to those who opt to follow Him. The light is revealed, not only to the Israelites but also to the gentiles. He presented Himself not only in the temple but in the whole world. He chose to reveal Himself not only to a certain group of people, but to all. He sacrificed Himself not only for the salvation of the Israelites, but also for those who accepted Him as their savior. The challenge then for us Christians is to become more zealous in following the light, and in doing so we need to prepare ourselves to be purified so that in the end, we might become worthy of seeing the Lord our God face to face in heaven.
Article by: Christian Jasper Gambito/ St. Peregrine Laziosi Parish Media