Candlemass recalls the account in the Bible (Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 2, from verse 22) where the child Jesus is presented in the Temple in Jerusalem in accordance with Jewish custom. There he was recognised by two elderly and faithful people - Simeon and Anna - for who he really was. Simeon spoke the prophesy that Jesus would have a profound effect in Israel and beyond. He also hinted to his mother, Mary, that Jesus would suffer in the process and that she, in her heart, would suffer with him.
We read in the gospels of how Jesus offered his time and his gifts generously and unceasingly to all those who came looking for him. He opened the eyes of the blind, brought healing to lepers and forgiveness to sinners. He was a light in the darkness of people’s lives. The candles that are carried into church on the feast of Candlemass remind us of this light of hope. Jesus continues to bring light in our darkness. Although he was put to death on a cross, his rising to new life means that the darkness cannot overcome the life and love that came into our world on that first Christmas.
Life is a mixture of struggles and consolations and no doubt we shall continue to recognise this over the year that has recently begun. The Christian faith does not pretend that life can be easy if you only believe the right things. What it does offer though is a sense of hope and a light in the darkness to guide us. I pray that we may become more aware of that guiding light so that whatever life brings, we shall know the steadfast love and mercy of God.