Saturday, February 2, 2013
Is There A Light At The End Of The Tunnel?
We’ve all gone through times of darkness in our lives, when the bad seems to far outweigh the good. And when even, perhaps, there seems to be no good at all. If we are really in the depths of darkness, we may even wail to God (If you have never reached that point, you don’t know what REAL darkness is. I have wailed to God.) But whether wailing to God, drinking or using drugs to forget, or just silently crying – alone, when things seem darkest most men cannot see the light, and wonder if it will ever exist again --- but at these times they have forgotten a basic fact of science: to see at all, anything, there MUST be some light. It is a rare darkness outside that we can’t see our hand in front of our face, and a rare sadness when we can’t look around and see someone happy. There IS light in our lives, even at the darkest moments. Our longing then, our desperate longing, is to see this light, and make it brighter.
Today, February 2, is the Feast of the Presentation in the Catholic Church. Like many designated “feast days,” over time its celebration has become commonplace. No feasting is done on this day in most churches, but it was not always that way …
The Presentation refers to that day when Mary and Joseph went up to Jerusalem and presented Jesus in the Temple to God --- His Father. There is a long history in the Jewish faith about why this was done, the presenting of a first-born son to God, and the day was both a celebration --- feast --- and a remembrance for the family, of God’s gift to them now (a son), and His gifts to them in the past. But the day of Jesus’ Presentation was unique, in that Jesus was not just a first-born son of the family presented to God, He was the First Son of the First Family --- God in the Trinity --- presented to God the Father. Other sons were blessings to a family; Jesus was a blessing to the world. (Read in Luke 2:22-35 what the Holy Spirit inspired Simeon to speak on that day about Jesus, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.”)
In past times this Feast Day was called Candlemas Day in the Catholic Church, and processions of people carrying candles celebrated the Light come into the world, this Light come into their darkness, so that the darkness could NEVER be complete again. This Light was there for ANY man to see, if he but looked. For the Light came into the world, and never left. I will be with you always.
How I wish we still celebrated this feast day with visible signs, like the procession with candles. We need physical reminders like that because we so easily forget. In the Old Testament God came and, through His prophets, spoke to His people and worked great miracles. Yet after a few years or generations, they forgot what had happened. The great blessing of Jesus was greater than any of those Old Testament wonders, because the miracle of His coming did not have to be remembered --- He never left! In His Church and in His Word, you can see and hear Him every day. In your darkest hour, you don’t have to wail as the Jews did in their time of deep darkness: “When will God come?” He has come, and He is here. In your darkest hour, it is YOU who must come, to Him. The Light remains here, waiting for you, waiting to love you and hold you.
In today’s office were words about Candlemas Day from Saint Sophronius, bishop:
“In honor of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light. Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.
This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendor.
As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness. By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in its honor.”
Even if only in your room, perhaps today you should light a candle and celebrate, even if only for a few minutes, that the Light has come into our world. And as a reminder to yourself that you’ll never be alone again --- even in your darkest hour.
(I remind you, again, of Fr. Groeschel’s small pamphlet titled: “You Are Not Alone --- Prayers in Dark Times.” I have given away hundreds of copies, and received many a thanks, from those who needed to read his consoling words.)