Today, February 2nd, we celebrate the holy day of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple of Jerusalem. St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother Mary, as devout Jews, realized the injunction of Mosaic law that stated that the period of forty days from the time of an infant’s birth would be a time of purification for the mother of the child. After that period had passed the mother and father would then bring the infant to the Temple to be blessed and formally received into the Jewish faith (confer Leviticus 12 1 – 8; and Exodus 13). St. Luke also recounts in his Gospel (Luke 2: 22- 40) “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.”
We should not confuse the Presentation of Christ with His circumcision since they are not celebrated on the same day. The Torah and other Jewish documents (confer Genesis 17:10–13) state that ritual circumcision of all male Jews (free and slave) is a requirement established by God and should take place eight days after the child’s birth, whereas the presentation at the Temple takes place forty days later.
Another name for the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is Candlemas. St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother, in presenting Jesus to the rabbi for acceptance into their faith, offered two doves for sacrifice to God (prefiguring Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice on the Cross). In celebration of the Presentation, Christian churches traditionally bless candles used in liturgical services on this day. The light that the candles will provide are also a remembrance of Jesus being the Light of the World.
The 7th century bishop and Patriarch of Jerusalem, St. Sophronius, in his sermon on this feast day directs us to “… In honor of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light. The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the True Light in her arms and brought Him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet Him. The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as He came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we [through Baptism] have now become the people of God.”
Let us too, go out to meet Christ, purifying ourselves through the Sacrament of Confession and receiving Him in the Holy Eucharist. The time is late, let us make sure we have oil in our lamps, ready to receive and walk with Him.
Praise be the Holy Name of God.
Copyright © 2011- 2021 by Deacon Paul O. Iacono – All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint must be obtained from me by making a comment on this post. I will respond to you through answering in the comment box. Students, and those interested, may quote small sections of the article as long as the proper credit and notation is given. Thank you.