Tuesday, 14 August 2012


They could have saved a lot of time, money and energy. All they needed was some dry twigs and a box of matches.. At the Olympic Stadium in London it would have taken just a few moments to get the Olympic Torch burning.
Instead, what did we have? A long journey over thousands of miles, by land and air.  Countless people – young and old, strong and frail – ordinary folk and celebrities – took their turn in passing the Torch from one to another. This Torch was carried to and through every country that took part in the games. Why? Why? Why?
Because of the marvel and the magic of a symbolism that spoke to the heart of sentiments too deep for mere words; a symbolism that resonated with people of so many different languages and dialects.
The journey of our Torch started in Greece – the birthplace of the original Olympic Games, way back over two thousand years ago. In this way the athletes of our Games were being bonded with the athletes of antiquity. Wistfully I wondered if we could learn anything from that ancient custom of having an interlude of peace so that neighbouring states that  were always  fighting each other could be free to engage in peaceful athletic competition.
Amidst laughter and cheers millions of the road-side people and the TV viewers have followed our Torch travelling towards its Olympic destiny. Surely some would have caught a glimpse of the decency of the global family and felt the possibility, of a better, more loving, more peaceful world.  Indeed, this has been a relay of the living, flickering flame being passed on and on…joy, love, respect, admiration on the move, cheering the lives of so many.
With all these thoughts jostling in my mind I recall how Jesus loved to describe Himself and then ourselves, in imitation of Him, in these glowing terms,
‘I am the light of the world,’ (Jn.8.12). ,You are the light of the world,’(Mtt.5.14).’Your light must shine in people's sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven,’  (Mtt. 5.16)
In its Easter Vigil liturgy the Church captures this drama of passing on a living flame from one person to another. In the darkness of the night, the faithful are gathered in a circle around a fire that has been lighted at the door of the church. Their faces are aglow with excited anticipation. The fire is blessed; the Priest, holding a small candle  hand, takes a flame from the fire, and with this lights the large Paschal Candle. This massive candle represents Jesus the glorious, risen Lord…the Light of the World!
From that moment the ‘Christ-Candle’ becomes the source of light that, gradually,  banishes the darkness within the church. On three occasions ‘The Light of Christ,’ is boldly chanted as this candle is carried down the aisle. With full hearts the congregation replies, ‘Thanks be to God.’
In the church light from Paschal candle is passed from one person to another, till whole congregation has received and passed on the Light of Christ. Surely this can be described a enlightened, Holy Communion!
The Olympic Torch traveling from Greece to London reminds me of the Torch of Faith which has travelled the journey through time from the original Pentecost down to us. Just as the brightness of the Olympic Torch rippling throughout the world has brightened our lives, so now our Faith must so ripple that those around us catch something of its radiance.
It occurs to me that since charity begins at home, then sharing the Light of Faith must surely  originate within the family when the newly born infant is brought to the church to be baptized…to be bonded to Christ our Light and through Him to be bonded to His Church.

A few moments after the infant has been baptized parents and godparents are made aware that they have received an immense  privilege. They have brought with them a small candle. One of  them lights it from the flame of the Paschal Candle. They hear the  words, ‘Receive the Light of Christ,’ and the reply, ‘Thanks be to God.’

With the words that follow it is made clear to them that this privilege entails enormous responsibilities, ‘This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light.’

 The Olympic Torch as pointed me to the Torch which is the Paschal Candle and this to baptism candle. This is mywaygodsway of my coming to realize that beautiful ideals must travel, must radiate, must be shared and must be passed on.

Peter Clarke, OP
On 24th August Isidore will reflect on how 'God's Fools' meet God

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