Groundhog Day has long been a holy day in my family. My brother came to Christ through baptism on February 2, 1964; our father went home to the Lord on February 2, 2007.

Perhaps my parents selected the date for Eric’s baptism because it was Candlemas, which honors the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple; I never thought to ask. Instead, I teased my brother about being baptized on Groundhog Day: If he saw his reflection in the font, did that mean he got an extra six weeks of grace? And God alone selected that date for my father.

This year, I smiled anew at the irony of these important events happening on a day when we delight in the silliness of whether or not a rodent sees his shadow. But then I thought about the mark my father left on the world and the mark my brother is still making – marks made not by casting shadows but by erasing them. The marks made by casting light into the dark places, by working hard to make the world a better place for everyone. The marks created by a life lived in hope, charity, and love, a life centered in faith.

Each day, we lift our heads into a new day and make a choice: Are we looking for light or for darkness? Are we living for truth or for easy answers? Are we serving God or ourselves?

In challenging days like these, we must not let the shadows of fear, hatred, and anger darken our world. God charges His children to shine His light so the shadows are vanquished. He commands us to love one another, to see and respect His light in each other. He commands us to love Him so His light burns in us eternally.

This is a time in our community, in our nation and world, for people of faith to stand tall. May the Holy Spirit embolden us to stand proudly and to radiate the love of Christ Jesus in all we do, think, and say May we cast light. May love triumph.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16