The Presentation of the Lord

02-02-2020Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday we celebrate a special feast day called the "Presentation of the Lord". The presentation took place 40 days after Our Lord's birth which is February 2nd. This special feast day is also the day the Church blesses candles that are to be used in your home throughout the coming year. Also recognized as Candlemas, this event invites us to reflect on the recent celebration of Christmas and the birth of Christ. We should also turn our minds to the approaching season of Easter. The feast of Candlemas, which we celebrate today, can be traced to the year 543 where we first hear of the "Feast of the Lighted Candles."

The history behind this feast day can be traced back to Sacred Scripture:

The LORD said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites: 'A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding… "'When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering."

According to Jewish law, women were considered unclean after the birth of a child and were not permitted to enter the Temple to worship. This lasted for 40 days after the birth of a son and 80 days after the birth of a daughter. At the end of the 40 or 80 days, the mother was brought to the Temple or synagogue and ritually purified. After this she could once again attend religious services and go out in public. 

Since Jesus was a boy, it was 40 days after Mary gave birth that she attended at the Temple to bring a sacrifice. Now we are led to understand from Luke, that Mary did not bring a year-old lamb, the reading mentions 'a pair of doves or two young pigeons,' one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. This suggests that Mary presented the option for poorer people, so we may suppose that Joseph and Mary were not very wealthy. Nevertheless, as faithful Jews they did their religious duty and observed the Law of Moses.

May this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord remind us that we are called like Mary to race to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to be a part of this celebration. As Christ is the light of the world that scatters the darkness, may we too bring the light of Christ to others. Our bright shining candles are a sign of the divine majesty of the one who comes to cast out the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of Our Lord's eternal light. Our candles show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ. The God-bearer the most pure Virgin, carried the true Light in her arms and brought Him to help those in darkness. In the same way we too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.

The Candlemas Prayer 

Lord God, you are the source of everlasting light. Your son, our beloved Lord Jesus 
was presented in the temple 40 days after his birth. He was recognized by Simeon and Anna, 
and welcomed as the promised Messiah. May we like them, behold the glory of the Lord Jesus.
Grant that we may stand before you with hearts cleansed by your forgiving love.
May we serve you all our days and make your name known as we worship you as our Lord. 
So may we come by your grace to eternal life.

O God, who in the work of creation commanded the light to shine out of darkness: we pray that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ may shine into the hearts of all your people, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and unbelief , and revealing to them the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Amen.