The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple
MAY THE LIGHT OF CHRIST LIGHT UP THE PATHS OF OUR LIVES
In terms of the Liturgy there’s a lot going on this first Sunday in February and that’s right you did read February TIME IS PASSING US BY. Like so many festivals in the church living in the northern hemisphere, a lot of liturgical celebrations centre on seasons and weather. This year especially, we are very inclined to pay attention to changes in the weather as it has been so very bad but at least we haven’t had temperatures of minus 55 like those who live in parts of Canada.
This Sunday we celebrate a major feast of Our Lord, The Presentation. This feast is also known as Candlemas Day, since traditionally candles used in the Liturgy were blessed on this day, with a solemn procession in which all carried lighted candles before the Mass. Forty days following the birth of a child, a Jewish mother, having been “purified”, came into the Temple with an offering to the Lord. Since every child belonged to God, the parents would “buy back” their child. Poor people, like Joseph and Mary, were obliged to bring only two inexpensive birds, like turtledoves or pigeons. This feast was first observed in the Eastern Church as “The Encounter.” In the sixth century, it began to be observed in the West: in Rome with a more penitential character and in Gaul (France) with solemn blessings and processions of candles, popularly known as “Candlemas.” The Presentation of the Lord concludes the celebration of the Nativity and with the offerings of the Virgin Mother and the prophecy of Simeon, the events now point toward Easter.
“In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. The Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. We Christians stress our communal worship, especially our Sunday Eucharist. But we are also encouraged to take our faith home with us. In numerous ways we learn in our homes what we express each Sunday when we come together for Mass that we are the body of Christ. We are a family, Gods family who are nourished by our God through Word, Sacrament and one another. Our Faith is a treasure beyond price, by the strength of which we stand boldly against the winds of fad and fashion. May we be the light of Christ to all those we meet as we move forward in faith that is faith in God and in one another with our pathways lit up by the light of Christ.