Fr. Santosh Madanu: Candlemas

Sermon delivered on Candlemas Sunday (transferred), February 3, 2019 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.


asato ma sadgamaya

tamasoma jyotir gamaya

mrityormaamritam gamaya

Om shanti shanti shantih

From ignorance, lead me to truth;

From darkness, lead me to light;

From death, lead me to immortality

Om peace, peace, peace

February 3rd, the final day of the 40 days long Christmastide season, is the presentation of the Lord, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or more popularly known as Candlemas.

Biblical basis:

This feast is based on the scripture in Luke 2: 22-40 where the Holy Family journeys to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of Jesus to present him to God and offer sacrifices in the temple.

At this time Mary completes the ritual purification required of women after the childbirth, and Joseph offers the sacrifice for the redemption of the firstborn male, as written in the Mosaic Law.

During their time in the temple Simeon gave his famous prophecy about the Christ Child being the Light to the Gentile nations and a sign for the Jews ,and that a word would pierce Mary’s soul: “ Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; Simeon was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him………….Then Simeon bless them and said to his Mother Mary, “ this child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be the sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

The symbolism of Candlemas is very much connected to Simeon’s prophecy.  On this day the church has a special ritual involving the procession and blessing of the candles, the candles being a symbol of Christ whose birth illumined the world’s darkness.

The doctors of the church have given special meaning to the candles used in Candlemas as a symbol of the incarnate Christ: the beeswax is a symbol of His pure body, the wick His Soul, and the flames His Divinity. Let us see in the flame of our candle, a symbol of Jesus Christ who came to enlighten our darkness. 

The blessing of candles at Candlemas is similar to the blessing of ashes and palms during the Lent and

Easter Season, respectively.  The faithful will often bring candles to Mass on February 3rdto have them

blessed for the use at home throughout the year.  We are keeping the message out there.  Jesus is the light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel. 

John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  This is the power and grace of light of Christ Jesus.

Let us examine where we failed to embrace His Light and His Will.  Can I personally say like Simeon?

‘Master, now you can dismiss your servant in peace for my eyes have seen your salvation.

Do I carry the light of Christ to others?

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the custom was for the mother of a male child to present him at the temple forty days after His birth, along with a lamb and a pigeon as a sacrifice.  Luke’s gospel tell us that Mary and Joseph were poor and could not afford a lamb, so Jesus was presented in the temple with two turtle doves for sacrifice. This shows clearly the family of Jesus was very poor and humble. The Light of the world became poor for us.

Let us continue to reflect on Jesus the Light of the world.

Think of glorious sunrise or sunset you have seen. No wonder some people worshiped the sun as a God in the eastern world (Hindus).  We who more enlightened to know One True God is not the sun but the Maker of the sun.  However we associate light with God, as did our Jewish ancestors in the faith. Bright clouds, a burning bush, and a pillar of fire were signs of God’s presence for them.   The psalmist promised, “The Lord shall be your Light forever” (I saiah60:19).  The light stood for the glory of God.

John 8:12 Jesus said “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”. These words imply that Jesus was God as well as the Messiah. Jesus repeats His claim before he cured the blind man (John 9:5).

Light is beautiful and mysterious – like God.  It is one but can be separated into many colors. No one knows if light is made of particles or waves.  In addition light has many functions that makes it a good symbol for Jesus.  Light helps us see things. Jesus gives us the truth about God and about the life, our origin, and our destiny.  Light guides us as we travel.  Jesus guides us safely through life to our heavenly home.  Light promotes growth and life.  Jesus brings us everlasting life.  Light warms and comforts.  Jesus welcomes us and comforts us.  Light dispels the darkness, which stands for evil.  Jesus pierces the darkness of sin and death and conquers them. All the darkness in the world cannot put out one candle flame.  Much more so Jesus cannot be overcome by evil of the world.

John begins His Gospel with” the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world (John 1:9). In the Nicene Creed, we call Jesus” Light from Light.”  Our greatest celebration, the Easter Vigil, opens by lighting a paschal candle from new fire and acclaiming the light of Christ.

A famous poem by John Hendry Newman” Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom. / Lead thou me on.  We pray for enlightenment to Christ and His Spirit, who came to us in the form of fire on Pentecost.  Following their lights, we look forward eternal light in God’s kingdom where for all God’s holy ones, “Night will be no more, nor will they need light from the lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light.”  Revelation 22:5

We often take light for granted.

Do we recognize the glory and power of this beautiful light?

Do we recognize Christ our light, could be enough for us for everlasting life?

Being counter-cultural. We live in a dark world, full of lies, hate and confusion. But God’s word tell us to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12) while others are chasing after the physical pleasures and selfish gain, we are commanded to live a different way – to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” Romans 13:14.

Putting yourself out there.  Jesus said.  “Let your light shine before others” Mathew 5:16.  Jesus explained that no none lights a lamp just to hide it under a basket.   A lamp is meant to be placed on a stand to give light to everything around it. Whether you are timid or outgoing, you are called to be a light to the people around you.  That’s only possible if you are taking time to interact with the people and cultivate relationships.

Before you can be light to others, take a look at your own life.  Has sin dulled the evidence of Christ in you?  If there any sin you repeatedly struggle with, write it down and pray over it and if you want make confession with the priest, please do so to receive God’s grace to overcome it.  I am sure then you will be singing “This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine.”

The prophets declare that rote religious practices are of no value unless accompanied by the pursuit of justice.  In other words, God is not interested in Empty words of prayers. He expects true transformation from the faithful acts of true devotion.

We must surrender our trust unto Christ. We must surrender to God out of love but not out of fear.  We can’t see God until we are born again.  Our job is to bring light of Christ to ourselves and to others. I don’t really care who is president, prime minister and chief minister.  But I care only my Lord and My savior Jesus Christ.

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may guard us to be holy and to be light of Christ to the world. Amen.