February 2nd is, of course, Groundhog Day, when lots of Americans pause early in the morning to watch a furry little rodent from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania predict the weather for the next six weeks. There’s a well-defined ritual surrounding the event but, more than anything, it’s a harmless little celebration giving folks an excuse to party and break the mid-winter doldrums. The 1993 film, “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, captures well the spirit of the day.
I have to mention too, that February 2nd has special significance for me personally for on that date in 1996 I was installed as the Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio. I have fond memories of my nine years in Youngstown, and am grateful for the many blessings I received there.
Most importantly, however, February 2nd is a beautiful day in the life of the Church, i.e., the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, when in fulfillment of the law of Moses, “Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” There in the Temple they were met by a “righteous and devout” man, Simeon, who took Jesus into his arms and recognized him as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Cf. Lk 2: 22-40)
To emphasize that Jesus is indeed light for the world, on that day, also called Candlemas Day, the Church blesses candles to be used in our churches and homes throughout the year. In this ceremony the Church prays that in using the sanctified candles, we too may “tread the path of virtue so that we will reach that light which never fails, Christ our Lord.”
We need the light of Christ in the world today, don’t we? In place of the darkness, division and confusion of our time, we need the light, peace and truth that Jesus offers us. Remember that Jesus solemnly proclaimed that he is the “light of the world.” (Jn 8: 12)
But sharing light with the world is not a task for Jesus alone. Jesus told his disciples, “You are the light of the world . . . Your light must shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5: 14,16) The task of being light of the world belongs properly, then, to everyone who is a disciple of Christ. Regardless of your state in life or your present circumstances, you too can be light for others by the way you live every day!
Something to think about: Today, be a light for others; spread the light of Christ.
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