Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas)
Tomorrow, 2nd February, is the feast of Candlemas or the Presentation of the Lord.
“When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’” Luke 2:22-24
40 days after Christmas, this Feast reminds us that Jesus was presented to God His Father in the Temple.
Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple so He might be consecrated – set apart – for the Lord. As the firstborn male of the family, according to the Law of Moses, Jesus would have been presented solemnly to the Lord and His life dedicated to Him. This leads us to begin focusing on the coming Season of Lent. Lent reminds us so clearly of the reason for Jesus’s coming to earth – that His Life had been one of hardship, suffering and grief, which would ultimately lead Jesus to give His life for us on the Cross and through His Resurrection He would raise us to new life with Him.
At Candlemas, new candles are replaced and all are used in church after they have been blessed. Candles remind us of the Light of the World, Jesus, and we ask Him to shine His light upon us so we may follow Him in our lives.
Simeon referred to Jesus as being the Light to enlighten all peoples. His light shines brightly as a candle in full strength and that is why this feast is called ‘Candlemas.’ Simeon blessed God as He embraced the Infant Christ with a lovely prayer called the Nunc Dimittis. This is traditionally said every evening as part of the Divine Office, the Prayer of the Church at Compline which is the last set of prayers of the day before bed.
May the Lord shine His lovely light upon us as we seek to follow Him day by day. Let us make Simeon’s prayer our own this week as we pray:
At last, all powerful Master,
You give leave to Your servant
to go in peace according to Your promise.
For my eyes have seen your salvation
which You have prepared for all nations,
the light to enlighten the Gentiles
and give glory to Your people Israel. Amen.