Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
February 2nd, 2010

Eileen Burke-Sullivan

Theology Department
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There are three themes that come together in today’s liturgy that drew me into this feast in a way that I have not experienced for a long time.  The first is the theme of fire as source of purification; the refiner’s fire.  The prophet Malachi witnesses that this fire is the Lord’s own Being that is “present” on a certain day in the Temple.  The second theme is message in the second reading from Hebrews that by taking on our human nature, Jesus encounters and endures the purification of human limitation.  The Gospel brings these two together and insists that Jesus’ humanity is the disclosure – the light - of the power and presence of God.  Interestingly on this winter feast the Church blesses the instruments for light and fire frequently used in the Church – the candles.  So for centuries in the English speaking world this has been Candlemas – or a day to celebrate (again) the sending of the light.

But candle light is also like a sword that pieces the darkness with its powerful beam of light.  So too is the candle the symbol of the vessel of God’s power (light) that purifies all it comes in contact with.  So we have a multi-layered set of symbols that invite us to find in Jesus’ limited humanity the disclosure of his limitless divine power.  He comes to take that which has been imperfect and make it perfect.  

In Luke’s Gospel we encounter the story of Simeon yet again and his message that Jesus, in his human condition, will be the occasion for the purification of the people.  We, to whom God has come, will either embrace the truth that God enters the limitations of our human condition and submits to the power of death in order to communicate the truth of Divine love or we turn away from that truth and demand a God that is too strong and perfect to become human.  In such a case we will not allow the one we call God to be vulnerable, to face suffering, to encounter rejection to be beaten up by the power of darkness. I don’t want to be weak, so I don’t want a weak God!

I don’t know about you, but there is a big part of my ego that doesn’t want to have to be human myself.  I am afraid to grow old, afraid to not be able to remember what I have once known, afraid of losing sight or hearing, afraid even of not being able to care for myself.  But if I worship the God who has submitted to human suffering and death can I do any less?

If you, God, could enter humanity and be one with us, let me really enter my humanity and be one with it and with you.  Let me be open to being refined, brought to perfection through the fire of whatever suffering is part and parcel of being limited.  As Ignatius encouraged us to pray:  Take, Lord and receive  . . . all.”
Today, take out a taper candle and light it in honor of the light that purifies the darkness, that challenges the world to see and know the truth.  This is the candle that announces that Love is here.  Love is present in the temple of each one of our hearts; Love will cost us everything so that we can be made what we were born to be.

Lift up your gates and let the King of glory come in! This six week old infant is the refiner’s fire.  Then we can say    “. . .for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples; a light for revelation . . .”                                                                                                                                                                         AMEN.

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