Candles are powerful symbols of light
Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas as well as the return of Jesus at the second coming. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning "coming".
On Sunday we lit the first of five candles on our Advent wreath. One candle is lit on each of the four Sundays in Advent, and at Christmas the white central candle is lit which represents Christ, “the light of the world”.
The candles on the wreath shed light into our path as we journey through Advent. But since they are made of perishable material (wax), the Advent journey is a costly one for them. In the process of shedding their light they are being consumed.
For this reason a candle is a powerful symbol of the life of service to which we, disciples of Jesus, are called. Even though this service can be costly, we draw inspiration from the words of Jesus, “Anyone who loses his life for my sake will save it.” ( Luke 9:24)
Candles remind us of loving people. Love makes people luminous. To see loving people is to see human beings at their brightest and best. They are like a lamp alight and shining.
Those who love shed light around them. However, their service can cost them dearly. But without people like them the world would be a much darker place.
The Gospels tell us that as Jesus died darkness enveloped the hill of Calvary. However, this terrifying darkness did not succeed in eclipsing the luminous goodness of Jesus. His resurrection from the dead ensured that darkness would not have the last say.
The light of Christ has come into the world. When we were baptised God called us out of darkness into the wonderful light of his Son (1 Peter 2:9). Therefore, we are called to live as children of light. We must let our light shine.
The most precious light of all is the light of love. Without that light the world would be a very dark place. Love lights up everything. It brings hope to a world darkened by selfishness, indifference and hatred.
We work towards putting our world in the shape we would want Jesus to find it when he comes: by feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, working for peace and justice, challenging unjust structures and by loving service to others.
Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.
(Some material is taken from New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies – Year C, Flor McCarthy SDB, Dominican Publications)