We have two significant moments to remember these days: one is the death of Mahatma Gandhi (great soul) and another is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple.
“Friends, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that; nevertheless, we will not see him again, as we have seen him for these many years, we will not run to him for advice or seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not only for me, but for millions and millions in this country and outside”, Jawaharlal Nehru’s address to the Nation, India.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated at 5:17 PM on 30 January 1948. Accompanied by his grandnieces, Gandhi was on his way to address a prayer meeting, when his assassin, Nathuram Godse, fired three bullets into his chest Godse was a Hindu nationalist with links to the extremist Hindu Mahasabha, who held Gandhi guilty of favoring Pakistan and strongly opposed the doctrine of nonviolence. Godse and his co-conspirator were tried and executed in 1949. Gandhi’s memorial at Raj ghat in New Delhi bears the epigraph “Hē Ram which may be translated as “Oh God”. These are widely believed to be Gandhi’s last words after he was shot.
Gandhi was a man for humanity; he was the light for many people in India as well as in abroad (Some of Gandhi’s ashes were scattered at the source of the Nil, in Uganda. and another in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Los Angeles. We can also assert that he was a prophet willed by God to bring about peace and non- violence in the world
Originally, the feast of the presentation of the Lord was celebrated on February 14, the 40th day after Epiphany , because Christmas wasn’t yet celebrated as its own feast, and so the Nativity, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord (Theophany), and the feast celebrating Christ’s first miracle at the wedding in Cana were all celebrated on the same day.
Inspired by the words of the canticle “A light to the revelation of the Gentiles”, by the 11th century, the custom had developed in the West of blessing candles on the Feast of the Presentation. The candles were then lit, and a procession took place through the darkened church while the Canticle of Simeon was sung. Because of this, the feast also became known as Candlemas. The feast calls us to offer ourselves as little lights to lead others into Light. We offer ourselves freely to be prophets and mystics in the world and for the world to stand for truth and justice.
The feast focuses Jesus as the Light of the world, as the One send to bring liberation to many and that included the whole human race. Jesus offers the TRUE freedom for all and he defends the enchained. The challenge is this: are we ready to follow the Light par excellence by accepting the little lights around us.
Let Gandhi too with his principles of life, the truthfulness he held high and non- violence he lived, lead us forward to reach the supreme light. Let the world recognize the legacy of Gandhi.
Beena Thombalan ASC