Feast of The Presentation of the Lord
February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Candlemas. It is based on the Scripture passage in Luke 2:22-40 where the Holy Family journeys to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of Jesus to present him to God and offer sacrifice in the temple. At this time Mary completes the ritual purification required of women after childbirth, and Joseph offers the sacrifice for the redemption of the firstborn, as required by the Law of Moses. The Holy Family offered two turtledoves, permitted to the poor instead of a whole lamb.
During their time in the temple Simeon gave his famous prophecy about the Christ Child being a light to the Gentile nations and a sign for the Jews, and that a sword would pierce Mary’s soul.
On this day the Church has a special ritual involving a procession and the blessing of candles, a symbol of Christ whose birth illumined the world’s darkness.
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The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendour, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendour.”
From a sermon by Saint Sophronius, bishop
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go/ in peace, according to your word,/ for my eyes have seen your salvation,/ which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:/ a light for revelation to the Gentiles,/ and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted—and you yourself a sword will pierce—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Today we too, like Mary and Simeon, want to take Jesus into our arms, to bring him to his people.”
Jesus, Light and Salvation of the World, have mercy on us.
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family pray for us. Amen.