Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Malachi tells of a messenger (an angel in the old translation) who prepares for the Lord's coming by cleaning, refining and purifying. And when the Mosaic Law demanded presenting a new baby and purifying the new mother, 40 days after the birth, Jesus and his Mother obeyed, as the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews implies in saying that Jesus took on our humanity "in every respect" -- even religious obligations, even death -- so that he might be our "high priest" and free us from evil. And then the beautiful story in Luke's Gospel explains how this Feast celebrates a family trip to the Temple in obedience to the law of Moses, and how a "righteous and devout" man named Simeon and a prophet named Anna both recognized the baby boy that Mary and Joseph presented as the "salvation" which God "prepared in the presence of all peoples."
In our tradition, February 2 was also "Candlemas Day," when candles were blessed in commemoration of Simeon's great words that the child Jesus would be "a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." In centuries past, processions with lighted candles represented Christ, the baby who is the Light of the World, entering the Temple in Jerusalem for the first time. (Blessing candles today also would prepare them for the tradition of throat-blessing on tomorrow's Feast of St. Blaise.) And in my own family tradition, as in many families, today is the day when we finally, a bit reluctantly, take down the wreath from the door and pack away the good Nativity scene. Christmastime, we admit, has ended; we move on, hoping for spring.
Thus this Feastday renews our traditional past, as Malachi says we will pray "as in the days of old and as in former years." But on this day and each day, Jesus Present leads us to look forward to the future, to Easter and the Kingdom.
Jesus, be present to me today and each day! Let me know your Presence, and let me recognize and love the people you present to me today and each day!
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