It is a hard life being a candle. As far as a we are aware, candles are not able to think, which is a good thing otherwise they would be quite neurotic.

The dilemma that candles face is that they need to be set alight to be what they are meant to be. Without a flame burning them, they are just a lump of wax with a bit of string sticking out. The flame makes them what they are meant to be, yet at the same time, it destroys them. The life of a candle is one of constant tension: how does a candle light up with the world without being destroyed in the process.

The same dilemma is experienced by Christians. We are called to love in the same way that Jesus loved (i.e. to love unto death). If we truly love, our life will be poured out as a gift for the world meaning that there is not much left for us. It is natural for us to recoil in fear in the same way that a candle would in the face of this decision: If I really let the light of Christ shine in me then there may not be much of me left at the end of it.

St Paul clearly understood this when he spoke about his life as being ‘poured out like a libation’ (Phil 2:17). John the baptist understood this when he said that ‘I must decrease and he must increase’ (Jn 3:30). Jesus clearly had this in mind when he said that ‘those who try to save their lives with lose them and those who lose them will save them’ ((Mt 16:25).

So, the next time you look at a candle, stop to think whether you are fighting against the flame; or whether you are letting the light of Christ take over your life, no matter what the consequences.