Monday, February 02, 2009

Candlemas

For the popular culture, today is Groundhog Day (he popped back, at least here in Chicago: uh oh), but on the liturgical calendar, the day is called Candlemas, or the Presentation of the Lord. It's the 40th day of Christmas, the day when a woman's first son would be "redeemed" from God by means of a sacrifice at the Temple. Of course, in the Presentation of the Lord, something else entirely is happening. Instead of the firstborn son being replaced by a pair of turtledoves, he himself is the ransom for many, although the sacrifice will not be completed for thirty-plus years. The readings for today add another dimension: the Lord is coming to his Temple. "But who may abide the day of his coming?" In the first reading, the Lord is coming like a blazing fire to purify the people like so much gold and silver. It's more an image of the second coming than of this day, when the Lord comes, yes, but in diapers in the arms of his mother.

The "candles" of the day are inspired by the Gospel. Simeon recognizes the infant as "a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people, Israel."

1 comment:

Fred said...

And let's not forget the mystery of the Incarnation, the great gift of God becoming one of us and the fact that by following Jewish law and custom, Jesus subjects himself to the laws of men. He never asks us to do something he himself has not done, and as the second reading says, allows him to walk with us as a brother. So many good things to celebrate this day!
Father Fred, CMF