Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple
Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. It is also known as “Candlemas”, as it was the day on which in olden times, all the candles for the year were blessed. The real date for this Feast is the 2nd of February, but we have transferred it to the following Sunday. Many people say that Christmas decorations may be left up in your house until the Eve of Candlemas.
The gospel reading tells the story of Mary and Joseph’s visit to the Temple, to make sacrifice to God in thanksgiving for the birth of Jesus, and for Mary’s purification after childbirth. In doing this, they were fulfilling an ancient law. As they were poor, the sacrifice was only two turtledoves.
There in the Temple, two wonderful people greeted them. Simeon and Anna. Their reactions were quite different. Simeon had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the consolation of Israel. He recognised this promise in the baby Jesus, and immediately prayed the great song we call the “nunc dimittis” (Latin for “now you dismiss”).
He feels complete, released from his long time of waiting, ready to die.
Anna lives in the Temple. She is an 84 year old widow, and is described as a prophet. This is a very unusual title for a woman, and acknowledges her faithfulness, her wisdom and her insight into the goodness of God. Her response upon seeing Jesus is one of excitement. She begins to praise God, and speak to everyone about what God was doing for the welfare of all people.
This story makes me wonder whether I am more like Simeon, or Anna? Their responses were both full of faith and belief. Yet they were different.
How do I view the good news of the love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ? Does it make me feel personally fulfilled, complete, thankful? Does it make me feel excited, and look forward to the future, and what more God might do in the life of my community? Perhaps it may be a combination of the two, or something slightly different.
May God grant you wisdom and fulfilment and excitement, too! God bless you