When I was on sabbatical in Palestine, I was surprised to see how small ordinary oil lamps were in Jesus’ time, about the size of your hand. Walls of the first century homes had periodic niches where they would be placed. Today’s feast is called “Candlemas,” and the tradition is to bless candles for use during the year. We always kept a supply at the ready in my family home for nights when the lights went out during famous Ohio thunderstorms. In today’s Gospel, a holy man named Simeon takes the child Jesus into his arms and says he is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” Light is a theme we have heard throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons. Recently I read an account of a man contemplating suicide on a bridge. What brought him back from the edge was remembering words of comfort and assurance — words from a boss he had many years before. The light of stars takes eons to reach the earth; the light of our lives is transformative, even after we have already left the scene. Most of us won’t be great lights, doing great things, writing great books, holding important world leadership positions. But here’s the thing: It does not have to be a big light; that’s not what Jesus asks. He only asks that we do the good we can, shed whatever light of goodness we can, wherever we find ourselves in life. One little oil lamp, one candle, can bring hope and security to those in the dark.
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia