REFLECTION FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A), Week beginning 29TH JANUARY 2023
This coming Thursday is Candlemas (February 2nd). It is forty days on from Christmas Day, inclusive of Christmas Day.
It is the Feast of the Presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple. On that day, the Holy Family encounter two devout elderly people (Simeon & Anna) in turn, both of whom make striking comments on what lies ahead in life for Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Candles have a huge symbolic significance in our spiritual lives.
At Sunday Mass, the ideal would be to have a full entry procession out from the sacristy, featuring a cross-bearer followed by two altar servers carrying candles – they are enclosing the image of the crucified Christ Who, within 3 days of death, will rise as Light of the World.
At the reading of the Gospel, the same two altar servers will face each other at the lectern, thereby enclosing Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God Who is the source of all true enlightenment.
Candlemas is followed on February 3rd with the Optional Memorial of St. Blaise.
He was the Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia and suffered martyrdom in AD 316. While he was in prison, he had miraculously cured a young boy who was choking to death on a fishbone lodged in his throat.
Blaise is also said to have saved a woman’s pig, and in appreciation she brought candles to his cell, so that he would have light to read Sacred Scripture.
At Mass on St. Blaise’s “Feast” day, two unlit candles, in the shape of an ‘X’ are placed against people’s throats. Accompanying this gesture is a prayer of blessing. This is surely very appropriate in “Covid” times.
It is also a real reminder of the permanent significance and symbolism of such candles in our daily lives.