The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Jose Bagadiong, SVD (USC, Cebu City)
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord / World Day of Consecrated Life
Three interrelated celebrations converge on this day, February 2: the Presentation of Jesus, Candle mass, and World Day for Consecrated Life.
The first is according to Jewish custom: forty days after the birth of a baby boy, he is brought to the temple to be presented to the Lord and for the mother to be purified. February 2 is forty days after December 25, the birth of Jesus.
The second, Candle mass, is derived from Simeon’s words upon seeing the child Jesus in the temple: “… a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2, 32) Jesus the Light is the inspiration for the celebration with candles. In early Christendom, people would place their candles outside the church for a blessing, then carry these inside the church in a procession to imitate the appearance of Jesus in the temple.
The third celebration refers to Pope Saint John Paul II’s instituting in 1997 a day of prayer for consecrated women and men. Symbolizing Christ, the Light of the world, those in consecrated life are also called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
“Those who would like to shed light must endure burning,” says William Pomeroy in his book, The Forest. Indeed, a candle must burn for it to give light. While burning, it continues to shed light until it is completely consumed. Jesus had to endure burning to shed light. He faced suffering and death to fulfill his mission of giving light.
Every Christian must experience some kind of scorching and burning until wholly consumed. Anyone who would like to follow Christ must carry his cross daily to give light and life.