Mine eyes have seen the Savior . . .
- Malachi 3:1-4
- Psalm 84 or 84:1-6
- Hebrews 2:14-18
- Luke 2:22-40
It has been 40 days since the Nativity, a day in Jewish tradition when a woman who has been delivered of a child is considered ritually purified, restored to the fullness of her health and vitality, her body rested from the ordeals of labor and the trauma of the birth itself, and the natural cycles returned to stability. She may now go to the Temple and return to public life. Today’s Feast is sometimes known as the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, sometimes called Candlemas (from Candle Mass), taking its name from the candles carried at the celebration of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (see The Book of Occasional Services).
Discover some activities and traditions associated with Candlemas from Building Faith.
It celebrates a ritual of Jewish law related to the first-born sons that Mary and Joseph carried out (Luke 2:21-40). Today’s gospel tells how Simeon and Anna, devout Jews, honored the infant Jesus as the promised Messiah.
As described in Holy Women, Holy Men, “The Presentation” reminds us of the Jewish law (Exodus 13:2; 22:29) that every firstborn son had to be dedicated to God in memory of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt, when the firstborn sons of the Egyptians died and those of Israel were spared.
When Mary placed her small son in the arms of Simeon, it was the meeting of the Old and New Dispensations. The old sacrifices, the burnt offerings and oblations, were done away; a new and perfect offering had come into the temple. God had provided himself a lamb for the burnt-offering (Genesis 2:2-8), his only Son. The offering was to be made once for all on the cross. At every Eucharist those who are in Christ recall that sinless offering and unite “themselves, their souls and bodies” with the self-oblation of their Lord and Savior.