Candlemas

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 The feast of the presentation of the Lord is a day that goes by several titles. It also is known as Candlemas and the Purification of Mary. The day itself represents the fortieth day after the birth of Jesus. It is the day that Mary must be ritually purified after giving birth and the day of the redemption of the first born male. Though the day shows the family’s devotion to Jewish faith, it also presents contradictions. For one though Mary is purified under the law, she needs no purification for the birth of the savior, just as Jesus does not need to be baptized by John. A second contradiction is the shekels given for the redemption of the first born. It is under the law of Moses that the first born is offered to God and the shekels are paid as a redemption. The contrast is that Jesus is the redeemer, and is offered totally to God, and is presented to the Father as a total offering.The presentation is the presentation of Jesus totally towards the Father. His is not a redemption of a few coins. The presentation is also the day traditionally marked by Candlemas, the day of the blessing of the candles.That celebration points to Christ as the light of the world entering into our world. The feast day shows the family as devout practitioners of Jewish faith. Through the people they meet at that event it also points towards who Jesus is. The old man Simeon is the image of devotion and also the image of someone seeking salvation. He is old, yet still awaits Gods promise of a savior, and sees this promise fulfilled in Jesus the Christ. His vision sees Jesus as both the salvation of the Jews and of the Gentiles. He sees the salvation as redemption, but redemption at a cost. He sees the piercing of Mary’s heart, a forward glimpse towards the future Passion of Christ. The presentation both points towards the Father and towards Easter. Today the procession of the candles is from outside into the Church into the Church. On Easter the tradition is to have the candles burst from the tomb.In the calendar this feast day too points towards Easter, yet also is a reminder of the Lent that comes first. The Lenten Journey begins in a couple of weeks.

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