The Feast of The Presentation – also called Candlemas
From an excellent Anglican blog found on Facebook, called “The Uprising – Ancient:Modern:Anglican Church”:
There is one more sacred day that should not be lost in the avalanche of “winter holidays.” February 2 – the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – is a time when we celebrate the blessing of the candles for the year – Candlemas – and the Presentation of the Lord in the temple.
After celebrating the Nativity of our Lord, with its splendor in both the Church and the popular culture, it would be easy for one’s mind to drift and overlook the significance of the fortieth day after the Lord’s birth. But we should look beyond our hustling to banish the decorations to the attic, the obsession over the days remaining in this strenuous winter, and endless chatter about Super Bowl Sunday. Because the events set in motion with the Annunciation and Nativity continue with the significant presentation of our Lord in the Temple.
Joseph and Mary’s presentation of the baby was no pro forma event. The words of the prophet Malachi are fulfilled in the poor parents presenting their firstborn son along with their humble sacrifice of two turtledoves. (“Now I am sending my messenger— he will prepare the way before me; And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:1) The mother of God – the Theotokos, in no need of ritual purification – and her husband did not set themselves above the Law.
In their conformation to the Law is God’s entrance into his Temple. Simeon and Anna, pious and elderly, having spent their lives in prayer and waiting in the Temple for the Messiah, have their “moment.” There is the glorious Nunc Dimittis of Simeon. Is not the conformation of the Law and the Prophets also fulfilled when the Lord enters the temple of our hearts?
With Candlemas we celebrate the coming of the Light of the World. But a shadow also passes; a shadow foretelling the suffering that will precede the victory of the Light over darkness. Simeon not only proclaimed that he had seen his salvation, but also told the Mother of our Lord that her share would include a sorrow pierced heart. In Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II wrote that Mary heard in Simeon’s words something akin to a second Annunciation,
“for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely, in the misunderstanding and sorrow. While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful.”
In like fashion, do we not also share in the sorrowful sufferings of the Holy Mother as we too live our lives in obedience to Christ?