Happy Candlemas! Today is the feast of the Presentation of Baby Jesus in the Temple, which, in the English-speaking Catholic and later Anglican tradition, has long been called Candlemas or Candle Mass. The Presentation is chronicled in the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus’s Mother Mary and His foster-father Joseph bring the baby to the Temple in accord with Jewish law, which required firstborn sons to be presented to God and mothers purified 40 days after birth (see Leviticus 12). While at the Temple, the holy man Simeon prophesied about Jesus and the sorrow His salvific role would bring His Mother. A prophetess, Anna, also bore witness to the Messiahship of Jesus.
Because Jesus says in the Gospels that He is the “light of the world” (John 9:5, 12:46), and because in the Old Testament the presence of God was made manifest by a cloud or Shekhinah during the day and a pillar of fire by night, the coming of the God-man Jesus into the Temple is the new manifestation of the Divine Presence and Light. Therefore, the Presentation was always a feast associated with light, which is why Catholics process with lighted candles and priests bless candles today. Hence, “Candle Mass” or “Candlemas.”
May Jesus Christ illumine your hearts, minds, and lives so you can bring His light to the world!
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