It is rare that the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (also known as Candlemas) falls on a Sunday. This feast is celebrated each year on February 2nd, the 40th day after Christmas. This is the day that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple and presented him to God with a sacrifice of two turtle doves (Lk 2:22-40). In the temple Mary and Joseph are met by two prophets: Simeon and Anna. Both are eagerly waiting for the Messiah and when Jesus appears in the temple they recognize him. The proclamation of the identity of the child Jesus as God’s Messiah is what makes this feast essentially a Christmas feast.
This year, because the feast falls on a Sunday, we will have the opportunity to celebrate this great mystery together. Join us for Mass where we will begin the celebration with the traditional blessing and distribution of candles in honor of the One who is the light of the world.
The Presentation of the Lord
Today’s feast is both magnificent and mysterious: magnificent because the very first contemporaries of Jesus begin to recognize him as Christ, the anointed Savior of the world; mysterious, because this King is still a child, an obscure boy obedient to his earthly parents. The prophet Malachi—living and dying before the coming of Christ—points toward the arrival of the Messiah and encourages God’s people to prepare themselves by living generous, holy lives. The Letter to the Hebrews—written after Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection—renews the prophetic call to holiness, reminding us that the Lord will always help us: “Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” The Gospel reading overflows with examples of joyful men and women living God’s call to holiness. Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna show us, in their own ways, how to love Christ.
The List Goes On
Today’s readings reflect on something close to the heart of every human person: the fulfillment of our deepest desires. Without exception, each of us feels unfulfilled in some way.
Despite advances in law, technology, and medicine, every person experiences the frustration of “not yet” or “not enough.” Our hearts always want more. God plants this desire in our hearts. God knows how we ache. What most of us fail to believe, deep down, is that God alone satisfies all our longing. We know, theoretically, that the Creator of the universe provides everything we need, but we could all use more quality time with God to consider the question, “What exactly do I need to be happy, Lord?” Perhaps we can spend more time in prayer and service, asking the Lord to show us what is truly important in life.
Always Ready for Jesus
We often think, “Once I get this, or once that happens, then I will be happy.” But the Gospel shows a better way. All four adults in today’s Gospel long deeply for the Messiah and “the consolation
of Israel” he will bring. Human temptation might obsess over the promise of future peace and prosperity, leaving only anxiety and resentment for present suffering. But Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and
Anna leave the saving of the world to God; for their part, they focus on Jesus. Each of them keeps busy with daily details of the various lifestyles they have chosen. Mary and Joseph concern themselves with raising a family, while Simeon and Anna dedicate their lives to prayer in the temple. They find peace enough in fulfilling the obligations of their stations in life, maintaining a lively prayer life to be attentive to God’s action in the world. In today’s Gospel, their focus is literally and spiritually on Jesus. They model for us how to be happy and holy: performing their daily duties peacefully, always ready to recognize Jesus as he reveals himself.
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