This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. This feast commemorates how Jesus, as a baby, was presented to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. This presentation finds its complete and perfect fulfillment in the mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a combined feast, commemorating the Jewish practice of the purification of the mother after childbirth and the presentation of the child to God in the Temple and his “buying back” from God. It is also known as the Feast of the Purification of Mary, or the Feast of Candlemas. It is also called the Feast of Encounter because the New Testament, represented by the baby Jesus, encountered the Old Testament, represented by Simeon and Anna, two holy people waiting to see the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Joseph offered two pigeons in the Temple as sacrifice for the purification of Mary after her childbirth and for the presentation and redemption ceremonies performed for baby Jesus. The offering symbolically reminds us of their faithfulness to God and obedience to the Law.
In the first reading, taken from the Book of Malachi, the prophet speaks of the Lord suddenly coming to Jerusalem to purify the lax, lazy and indifferent priests of His Temple as silver is purified by fire. It symbolically reminds us of God’s desire to purify us and bring us back to holiness. In the second reading, Paul proclaims Jesus as our Eternal High Priest of the New Covenant. Paul notes that Jesus offered Himself on the altar of Calvary, the only pure, priestly sacrifice that could please God. Jesus replaces the former priesthood and rituals and sacrifices. The Gospel describes how Joseph, as the head of the Holy Family of Nazareth, presented Mary and the baby Jesus in the Temple of God for the mother’s purification and the Child’s “redemption.” It also describes the Holy Family’s encounter with Simeon and Anna. In his prophecy, Simeon extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel and to all men, and predicts that Mary will play a crucial and sacrificial role in her Son’s redemptive work by sharing in her Son’s sufferings.
So, the Presentation is a proclamation of Christ—Messiah and Priest, Lord and Savior. He is the Light who came into this world to dispel sin and darkness. For this reason, traditionally at least since the seventh century, candles have been blessed at Mass on this day and they will be used throughout the year, hence coining the term “Candlemas.” As we consider the Feast of the Presentation, we remember that our parents presented us at church for our baptism. We were dedicated to God, and given the name, “Christian.” We, too, received a lit candle from the paschal candle, after which the priest said, “You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as a child of the light and keep the flame of faith alive in your heart. Therefore, as a light, each of us must bear witness to Our Lord. We must be the beacon that guides others to Christ, the Light of the World. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our Baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people, consecrated to God, and that we are obliged to lead holy lives.
In keeping with tradition, during Mass this weekend we will bless candles that will be made available for you to take home. At home, light this candle and reflect on Luke 2:22-32 and consider the many blessings in your life. Also, pray that your home may be filled with the light of Christ. We have many more activities planned for this month to help your family to grow spiritually. Please see last week’s bulletin for a list of programs suggested for the month of February. Monday, February 3rd is the feast of St. Blasé, patron saint for throat illnesses. I encourage you to attend Mass on Monday and have your throats blessed.
You may be aware that our parish is organizing two Free Catholic Estate Planning Seminars on Monday, February 3, at 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. I encourage you to take advantage of this service and enjoy the free snacks and drinks which will be provided. To sign up or to ask any questions, please contact Bob Ulrich at the parish office.