Today we celebrate the presentation of the Lord, 40 days after his brith. At the center of our celebration is the Canticle of Simeon who was promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. In his canticle (a text intended to be sung) he proclaims Jesus as
A light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.
It is difficult for us as modern Christians to grasp the radical nature of what Simeon was saying. We think of Christianity as primarily a religion of non-Jews. Even in Jesus's own lifetime, his ministry was perceived as something to and for the chosen people, Israel. Had it not been for God calling St. Paul it might have remained merely a sect of Judaism.
What Simeon is proclaiming is that the message of Jesus is not just the "laos" (Jesus's own people) but for the "ethnos"( the foreigners, the pagans, the great unwashed masses of people).
We must be careful that we don't fall into the trap of thinking that we are the new chosen people in the exclusive sense. We have only to look at our politics to see where that leads, people refusing to even talk to people they disagree with. If we only talk to people who agree with us, what kind of discussion is that.
Too often we simply want to talk at people rather than talk with them. We seem to be loosing our ability to truly listen. We forget that in order to bring someone to Jesus, I have to first go to where they are now, stand with them, and walk with them on the journey, as Jesus did on the road to Emaus.
Today we began mass by processing into church with our lit candles, we walk out remembering that tomorrow and the next day we are to be those bearers of light