Today’s Celebration: The Presentation of the Lord Also know as: Candlemas If you follow the two “links” highlighted above, you will probably end up knowing more about today’s celebration than you ever thought possible. However, I’m working on the theory that “the more we know about our faith and our celebrations, the more we come to know how the Church gives us ample opportunities to deepen our understanding of the faith.
Malachi 3:1 – Psalm 24 – Hebrews 2:14-19 – Luke 2:22-40
“Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in.” (Today’s Responsorial Psalm 24)
Today’s liturgy Is rich in all kinds of symbols and images and we are given insight into Old Testament, New Testament and “Future Testaments.” It’s like an outline that connects all the dots. “Now, Lord, you may let your servant go in peace because my eyes have seen your salvation.” (Simeon’s great Canticle of faith.)
The image of Jesus being brought into the Temple as a child to be presented to God Is filled with all kinds of irony. Later in the Gospels we’ll hear about His teaching in the Temple and then about His anger at the way the people had tuned the Temple of God into a den of thieves.
But for now, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus will return to Nazareth where He “will grow in wisdom and truth.” But there’s not much time since we will switch gears in about three weeks to begin LENT! But first, an “aside:” today’s Feast is the “official end of the Christmas cycle” In fact, my own mother, who was not at all “liturgically savvy,” used to try and keep her Christmas tree up until this date even though my father wouldn’t let her put the lights on for fear of a fire on the old tree. I know that I’ve said this before but today’s celebration brings it back into focus: the little baby, Jesus, born in the cold and dark of Bethlehem with his little arms outstretched in welcoming is the same Jesus who will stretch out His arms on the Cross for our salvation. Christmas and the Paschal Celebrations are the two bookends of our faith. And I just love the fact that our Church “fudged” a little when it came to this celebration. The Feast of the Presentation used to be on February 14th so that it was 40 days after the Feast of Epiphany. That was before the feast of Christmas was set on the 25th of December. So, in order to keep the numbers right Presentation was put back to this date. So, don’t say our Church is rigid and can’t make adjustments in the way we celebrate the important feasts of our faith. Remember, we’re the ones who invented calendars – not God!
So, what’s our ‘bottom line?’
It’s Jesus, who is the “Light of the World.” Even as a baby His destiny is set so that Simeon can say, “Now, Lord … I see!” All of us, then, have to be able to “see” this important reality in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But we have no fear for we have marvelous examples in the way that the close followers of Jesus had to eventually come to Simeon’s kind of faith: the women who didn’t recognize the resurrected Jesus; the disciples on the road to Emmaus; and even Saul who was persecuting the Xian’s and had to ask the question, “Who are you?”
“I am Jesus, ‘the Light of the World” and that’s why this feast is often called Candlemus Day when all the candles to be used in the liturgies of the coming year are blessed.
So, as we celebrate this Feast let us remember all the wondrous miracles that Jesus did during His public ministry especially those that prompted the response, “Now, Lord, you may let your servant go in peace because my eyes have seen your salvation.” Amen!