Candlemas

February 2, 2021
Epiphanytide

Today’s Readings: Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 84; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40; Reflection: The story of the presentation of our Lord


Call to Prayer

Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Thanks be to God. 

Dear people of God, forty days ago we celebrated the joyful feast of the incarnation of Jesus. Today we recall the day on which he was presented in the temple, fulfilling the law of Moses. Led by the Spirit, Simeon and Anna came to the temple, recognized the child as the Christ, and proclaimed him with joy. United by the same Spirit, we now enter the house of God, where we shall recognize Christ in the breaking of bread.

The Hymn

“‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”

By Louisa Stead

Lyrics:

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and to take him at his word; 

Just to rest upon his promise, and to know, “Thus says the Lord.” 

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er! 

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more! 

Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease; 

Just from Jesus simply taking life and rest, and joy and peace. 

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er!

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more! 

I’m so glad I learned to trust you, precious Jesus, Savior, friend; 

And I know that you are with me, will be with me to the end. 

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er!

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more! [1]

Antiphon

Rejoice greatly, O daughters of Zion, behold thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation.

Old Testament: Malachi 3:1-4

My messenger, a refiner and purifier

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Refrain

It was revealed unto Simeon by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Let us pray. 

O God, you have made this day holy by the presentation of your Son in the Temple, and by the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mercifully grant that we, who delight in her humble readiness to be the birth-giver of the Only- begotten, may rejoice for ever in our adoption as his sisters and brothers; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Antiphon

We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O Lord, in the midst of your temple. Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end; your right hand is full of justice. 

Psalter: Psalm 84

How dear to me is your dwelling, O God 

How lovely is your dwelling place,

O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints

for the courts of the Lord;

my heart and my flesh sing for joy

to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O Lord of hosts,

my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house,

ever singing your praise.    Selah

Happy are those whose strength is in you,

in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca

they make it a place of springs;

the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;

the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;

give ear, O God of Jacob!    Selah

Behold our shield, O God;

look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better

than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

than live in the tents of wickedness.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

he bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does the Lord withhold

from those who walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts,

happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Refrain

It was revealed unto Simeon by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Let us pray. 

O God, source of all light, today you revealed to the aged Simeon your light which enlightens the nations. Fill our hearts with the light of faith, that we who bear these candles [of faith] may walk in the path of goodness, through Jesus Christ the Light of the World. Amen.


Epistle: Hebrews 2:14-18

Jesus shares human flesh and sufferings

Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Refrain

It was revealed unto Simeon by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Canticle

A Light to enlighten the nations, 

     and the glory of your people Israel. 

A Light to enlighten the nations, 

     and the glory of your people Israel. 

Lord, you now have set your servant free * 

     to go in peace as you have promised. 

A Light to enlighten the nations, 

     and the glory of your people Israel. 

For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, * 

     whom you have prepared for all the world to see. 

A Light to enlighten the nations, 

     and the glory of your people Israel

Amen.


“Presentation Of Jesus In The Temple”
By Fra Angelico

Antiphon

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.

Gospel: Luke 2:22-40

The child is brought to the temple

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,

according to your word;

for my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Refrain

It was revealed unto Simeon by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech Thy majesty: that as Thy Only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto Thee, with pure and clean hearts, by Thy Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Antiphon

Open ye the gates: that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

Reflection

The Story of the Presentation of the Lord

“At the end of the fourth century, a woman named Etheria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journal, discovered in 1887, gives an unprecedented glimpse of liturgical life there. Among the celebrations she describes is the Epiphany, the observance of Christ’s birth, and the gala procession in honor of his Presentation in the Temple 40 days later. Under the Mosaic Law, a woman was ritually “unclean” for 40 days after childbirth, when she was to present herself to the priests and offer sacrifice—her “purification.” Contact with anyone who had brushed against mystery—birth or death—excluded a person from Jewish worship. This feast emphasizes Jesus’ first appearance in the Temple more than Mary’s purification.” [2]

“The observance spread throughout the Western Church in the fifth and sixth centuries. Because the Church in the West celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25, the Presentation was moved to February 2, 40 days after Christmas.” [3]

“At the beginning of the eighth century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession; at the end of the same century the blessing and distribution of candles which continues to this day became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name: Candlemas.” [4]

Reflection

“In Luke’s account, Jesus was welcomed in the temple by two elderly people, Simeon and the widow Anna. They embody Israel in their patient expectation; they acknowledge the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. Early references to the Roman feast dub it the feast of Saint Simeon, the old man who burst into a song of joy which the Church still sings at day’s end.” [5]

“Today’s Gospel introduces us to different people and events that in themselves provide numerous lessons and themes for further reflection. First of all, Mary and Joseph respect the Mosaic Law by offering the sacrifice prescribed for the poor: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” [6]

“Simeon and Anna were two venerable elderly people dedicated to prayer and fasting and so their strong religious spirit rendered them able to recognize the Messiah… In the figure of the venerable Simeon, Jesus’ presentation in the temple, also reminds us that prayer and contemplation are not just a waste of time or an obstacle to charity. On the contrary, time could not be better spent than in prayer as true Christian charity is a consequence of a solid interior life. Only those who pray… like Simeon and Anna, are open to the breath of the Spirit. They know how to recognize the Lord in the circumstances in which He manifests Himself because they possess an ample interior vision, and they have learned how to love with the heart of the One whose very name is Charity.” [7]

“At the end of the Gospel Simeon’s prophecy of Mary’s sufferings is emphasized. Pope John Paul II taught that, ‘Simeon’s words seem like a second Annunciation to Mary, for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely, in misunderstanding and sorrow.’ (Redemptoris Mater, n16) The archangel’s announcement was a fount of incredible joy because it pertained to Jesus’ messianic royalty and the supernatural character of His virginal conception. The announcement of the elderly in the temple instead spoke of the Lord’s work of redemption that He would complete associating Himself through suffering to His Mother. Therefore, there is a strong Marian dimension to this feast and so in the Liturgical Calendar of the Extraordinary Form it is called the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This refers to the other aspect of the presentation that consists of the ritual purification of Jewish women after they had given birth. In Mary’s case this purification was not necessary, but it indicates the renewal of her total offering of herself to God for the accomplishment of His Divine Plan.” [8]


“Simeon’s prophecy also announces that Christ will be ‘a sign of contradiction’. St Cyril of Alexandria, in one of his homilies, interpreted the words ‘sign of contradiction’ like a noble cross, as St Paul wrote to the Corinthians ‘a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles’ (1 Cor 1:23) […] It is a sign of contradiction in the sense that those who loose appear as foolish while in those who recognize its power [the cross] reveals salvation and life’ (c.f PG 77, 1044-1049).” [9]

Refrain

It was revealed unto Simeon by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Let us pray.

O eternal God, who created all things; on this day you fulfilled the petitions of the just Simeon: we humbly ask you to bless and sanctify us for Your use. Graciously hear our prayers and be merciful to us, whom you have redeemed by your Son, who is the light of the world, and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Tickle, P. (2006). January. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 624). New York, NY: Image Books.

[2] Media, F. (2021, February 02). Presentation of the Lord. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/presentation-of-the-lord

[3] Ibid. 2

[4] Ibid. 2

[5] Ibid. 2

[6] Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – February 02, 2020 – Liturgical Calendar. (2021). Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2020-02-02

[7] Ibid. 6

[8] Ibid. 6

[9] Ibid. 6

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