In his allegory of the cave, the Greek philosopher, Plato, painted the image of a people who for ages had lived in the darkness of a cave, having no direct contact with light. They got so used to darkness that light, instead of being a source of clearer vision to them, became rather an inversive phenomenon to be resisted. Their immediate disposition to light therefore was aggressive rejection. It is so with us, when we are too used to darkness, light cannot be readily appealing.
The feast of the presentation of the Lord is the feast of light. The light of Christ enters the temple. Those in darkness have seen a great light, “…a light to the gentiles.” (Lk 2:32) Simeon saw this light and rejoiced, and so did Anna the daughter of Phanuel. However, the light of Christ has not always been welcomed with the same joy as in Simeon and Anna. Not all who live in darkness longs to have light. Some feel threatened, and want the light extinguished. So, in Jesus who is the light of the world, there has always been this dynamism of acceptance and rejection. Some love him, others hate him.
The magi sought him to adore him, Herod sought him to kill him. As one thief on the cross mocked him, the other adored and implored him. Christ has thus, been “a sign of contradiction”. (Lk 2:34)
as Simeon prophesied.
Mary too, was to experience this contradiction in a different way. The joy she experienced at the birth of Christ was tempered with, by the prophesy that a sword shall pierce her own soul on account of the child. (Lk 2:35)
Accepting Christ in our lives is a conscious choice that is not immune to this same contradiction. There is always a part of us that yearns for God, and some dark part of us that always revolt against the light of Christ. Letting go of a habit that is not congruent to the gospel has never been easy for anyone. The joy and peace we feel knowing that we belong to God, and the guilt we feel knowing that we do not live up to our callings, are all realities of Christian life. However, Christian life is a struggle in which we strive to attain perfection in spite of the contractions that may define that struggle. The good news is that salvation is never something we achieve by ourselves but a gift from God. What counts are our candid efforts, and the extent to which we are open to receive that gift by allowing the light of Christ to penetrate our lives, and in becoming instruments of that light.
The light of Christ has been given us to spread everywhere in the world. The candles light service that usually go with todays’ feast, symbolizes that we have the light of Christ in us, for Christ said, “you are the light of the world.” (Mt 5:14) The mission to become an instrument of Christ to the world is not as easy task. There are always the forces of darkness within and without, that always resist the penetrating light of Christ in our lives. May God give us the openness and resilience to hold unto this light amidst all odds, and be ever led by it to God in whom is our salvation.