Today is the feast of the presentation of the Lord, and Candlemas. The presentation comes from Jewish law that the first-born male must be dedicated to the Lord, and from the ritual purification of women after childbirth. Candlemas comes from what Simeon says when he holds the Christ at the temple.
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
It proclaims Christ as the light of the world, and it is a traditional day for the blessing of candles in church, though unfortunately I have not seen that in many years. Perhaps that is the greatest downside of Edison’s invention? Simeon’s canticle is one that is said every night at Compline, and that might be reason why this day has extra meaning. That canticle is a very familiar one.
Today Lk 2:22-40 Jesus is presented at the Temple as an infant, and yesterdays Mk 1:21-28 reading is where he presents himself at the synagogue. The events seem to be mirror images. That little observation is my reward for being diligent in following the daily readings. It is an enlightening thought reminding me of all the times Christ is presented at Church. What was not present in todays reading was the contradiction Simeon mentions “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted” The beginning of that contradiction was seen in that synagogue reading from yesterday, it begins Christ’s journey towards the Passion.
When I think of Simeon’s canticle, I also begin to think of how he and Anna began to recognize the child Christ as the salvation of the world. In thinking of that I recall the many years both spent in that Temple and I can imagine all that they had witnessed there, and all they had prayed for. I think of that as their preparation for recognizing Christ as the light of the world. Their diligence in prayer gives proof positive of the power of prayer. With that then too I can recall the presentation of Mary at this same temple, and her many years of prayer. Today the fruit of her prayers is presented at the same temple. Many people through out the world have prayed for salvation, this day of the presentation is the answer to those prayers whether they be ancient or contemporary.