Reflection Feb 2020
Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
Today’s feast, the Presentation of the Lord, commemorates the Jewish ritual in which a mother comes to the temple to be purified 40 days after giving birth to her child. Thus, Mary and Joseph came to the temple with Jesus for the prescribed purification. It falls on February 2, which is traditionally the conclusion of the Christmas-Epiphany season. Historically, Christians bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year. These blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, who referred to Himself as the Light of the World.
There are three themes that come together in today’s liturgy. First is the theme of the fire as source of purification; the refiner’s fire. The prophet Malachi witnesses that this fire is the Lord’s own Being that is present. The second theme is a message in the second reading from Hebrews that by taking on our human nature, Jesus encounters and endures the purification of human limitation. The Gospel brings these two together and insists that Jesus’ humanity is the disclosure – the light – of the power and presence of God. So the Church blesses the instruments for light and fire – the candles – to celebrate the sending of the light.
In Luke’s Gospel we encounter the story of Simeon and his message that Jesus, in his human condition, will be the occasion for the purification of the people. “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many… and to be a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Lk 2:34-35 We, to whom God has come, can embrace the truth that God enters the limitations of our human condition and submits to the power of death in order to communicate the truth of His Divine love to save us from our sinfulness.
Prayer. Lord, I thank you for entering our humanity to be one with us and showing us how to be fully human and fully alive. Let me be open to being refined, brought to perfection through the fire of whatever suffering is part and parcel of being limited. Today, I take out a taper candle and light it in honor of the Light that purifies the darkness of our souls; that challenges the world to see and know the truth. This is the candle that announces that Love is here; Love is present in each one of our hearts; Love will cost us everything so that we can be made what we were born to be.