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Candlemas

February 2, 2021

“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying.” Luke 2:28

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, celebrated by some as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s also called Candlemas, a term with which I was unfamiliar until I spent a year at the University of St. Andrews. They don’t use pedestrian terms like “second semester.” They have Candlemas semester, which follows Martinmas semester. Quite proper.

Anyway, on the fortieth day of Christmas, Mary and Joseph go up to Jerusalem. Mary needs to receive the rite of purification, and the new parents desire to present their child unto the Lord. In Jerusalem, the Holy Family meets Simeon and Anna, two people who see in Jesus the salvation of all people and the redemption of Jerusalem. The gospel appointed for today includes the Song of Simeon, the Nunc dimittis. Simeon’s song has become the song of the church, one of the canticles from Luke’s Gospel that has long been used in Christian liturgy. It is sung in Compline, prayer at the close of the day. Lord, now let your servant depart in peace.

I’m struck this morning by the verse before Simeon starts to sing. Luke tell us that in the Temple, Simeon took the baby in his arms. Did he ask Mary’s permission? How did Jospeh react? We don’t know, because Luke’s focus is on Simeon and the child his arms.

How do you picture the scene? Simeon holds the baby Jesus and praises God. Where is Simeon looking while he praises God? Up to the heavens or down at the child? The beauty is that Luke doesn’t tell us. After all, the God whom Simeon praises is the child he holds in his arms. God come down to earth, Emmanuel. Now that is a sight for sore eyes. The God who lights up the heavens is the baby Jesus, the Light of the world.

May you behold Jesus today and live in the light of his glory. Rest in the peace of God, the peace that transcends even death. With Simeon and Anna, we proclaim the salvation of the Lord. Blessed Candlemas!

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Lord, now let your servant depart in peace. With Simeon, we have seen your salvation. With Anna, we have witnessed our redemption. With them, and with all your saints, let us sing your praise and live in your light. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: The Presentation of the Temple, Philippe de Champaigne, 1648 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

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