Today we celebrate Pentecost.
I want to call your attention to this candle.
Were you here at the Easter Vigil, 50 days ago?
This was new; we gathered outside, in the dark;
and this Light of Christ shone out over the city.
Deacon Tracy carried it in, chanting, “Light of Christ!”
The light rapidly spread to everyone’s candle,
and soon the dark church was bright.
Then the deacon sang the Exsultet,
the prayer that the deacon sings just one time a year,
on that one solemn night.
No doubt you’ve noticed: it’s a lot shorter.
All during the Easter season,
I’ve been mentioning to servers, “make sure you light it”—
even during daily Mass, when we’re in the chapel.
“Let it burn” I kept saying; don’t worry if it burns down.
It’s more than half gone!
But don’t worry; it’ll last until next year.
After Pentecost, we move it over to the baptismal font.
And then, between now and next April,
we’ll only light it a few more times till next Holy Week;
only for baptisms and funerals.
Why am I focusing on this?
To reflect on what this candle means.
It’s marked Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end.
These stand for the five wounds of Christ.
The candle stands for Christ. There is no light but him!
Here’s what the deacon prayed that night:
“O Holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands…
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light.”
That’s why I wanted to burn the candle:
because that’s what it’s for!
God became man and dwelt among us for no other purpose but this:
to spend himself fully as a ransom for many.
With the gift of the Holy Spirit, he poured himself into us.
The flame is divided – amongst us all – “yet never dimmed.”
Fellow Christian, you aren’t supposed to be there, just looking good. Burn! Give light! Make sure it shines forth,
above all in the darkest places!
There is no other light – no true light. Only Jesus Christ!
Are you afraid of being burnt down, used up?
Not enough wax to last?
We could have saved this candle; barely lit it,
and then just as quickly, put out the light right after Mass.
We could have conserved this candle,
and it would be taller, prettier.
And then, when the year was up,
we’d take it out and replace it with a new candle.
More to recycle, because it was never used!
Christ did not die for us to be that!
He did not pour the Fire of God into us to be stored away!
From the prayer on that Easter Night:
“May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son,
who coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns forever and ever.”