The Power Of A Candle - In South Africa, prior to the abolition of apartheid, people used to light candles and place them in their windows as a sign of hope, a sign that one day this injustice would be overcome. At one point, the authorities began to crack down on this. It became illegal to have a lit candle in your window, as illegal as carrying a firearm. The irony of this was not missed by the children. They soon had a joke among themselves: “The government is afraid of candles!” Eventually, as we know, apartheid was overcome. Reflecting upon the forces that helped overthrow it, it is fairly evident that candles, lit religious candles, were more powerful, ultimately, than were firearms. Hope is more powerful than any army. But what is hope? Many of us mistake wishing for hope. They are not at all the same. Wishing is fantasy, pure and simple. Thus, for example, I can wish that I might win a million dollars, but that is not connected to any reality. It is simple daydreaming. You do not light a candle for a daydream. Hope is based upon a promise, the promise of God, a promise that says that—human sin and power notwithstanding—justice, peace, love, harmony, gentleness, and graciousness will, eventually, become reality. To light a candle, then, is to say that gentleness and graciousness are ultimately more powerful than threats, torture, and guns. To light a candle is to proclaim to the world that our real allegiance is given to something and to someone beyond them. In retrospect, the government’s paranoia about candles was well-founded. A lit candle is a powerful statement of hope.
-Daily Reflection For Waiting, by Ronald Rolheiser, OMI Copyright 2016 Liguori Publications