The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord this year falls on a Sunday and so the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time is superseded. You may be more familiar with this Feast being called Candlemas Day, since often there is often the blessing of candles included in the liturgy.
Candles mean light. Simeon in the Temple recognized THE Light and said “My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.” Simeon (whose name means “God has heard”) later cries out “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word.” The Messiah has arrived! The aged prophetess Anna who has been praying and fasting in the Temple for many years immediately recognizes the Messiah… “(she) began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.”
Jesus is entering the Temple in the arms of His Mother accompanied by St. Joseph – God is entering into the Temple. “God made man entered His temple, presenting Himself to those who were really searching for Him.”
Mary and Joseph, obeying the Mosaic Law offer two turtledoves or pigeons (the offering of the poor). “One bird was for a holocaust of adoration, the other for a sin offering.” This offering “foreshadows” the offering Jesus will make to the Father on our behalf.
Simeon thus says “You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected.” So Jesus is to suffer. But Mary also, for Simeon adds “and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.”
“This is a prophecy of Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix, which does not mean equal to the role played by Christ (whose redemptive sacrifice was completed on Calvary), but rather, that she participates (as we all do, by carrying our crosses) in the work of redemption which is referred to by Paul in Col. 1:24: “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is the Church.”
Carry your lighted candle this Sunday. Carry the Light of Christ. Carry the Light of Christ out from the Church into the darkness of the world…and so make a difference.
Sr. Rosaleen Shaw OP