The Presentation of the Lord

Jan. 28, 2024

This Friday, Feb. 2, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple to present Him to God and to fulfill the purification rites for Jesus and His mother.
   
For the Jewish people, blood was very sacred, and any contact with blood made one unclean. You would need to go through purification rites (a sacred bathing) to be made ritually pure and to be able to worship in the synagogue with the rest of the people. Mary and Jesus were made unclean by the blood of childbirth and needed to undergo the purification.

The final plague in Egypt, leading up to the Exodus, was the death of the unborn. Because the Hebrews were spared that plague, parents were required to bring their first-born sons to the Lord, and present them to the Lord, declaring that this child belongs to God. They would then buy that child back from the Lord. For a poor family like Mary and Joseph, the price was two pigeons or two turtledoves. This buying of the child back was called “redeeming” the child.    

These are the two ceremonies that are being celebrated by the Holy Family in this scene. When they came to the Temple, they encountered two people—Simeon and Anna. Simeon was an old man who had been promised that he would not die before the coming of the Messiah.  He took the child in his arms and praised God for sending this Redeemer to Israel. Anna was there at the Temple as well. She too awaited the coming of the Messiah, and when she saw the child Jesus, she began telling everyone about Him.
   
In Simeon’s prayer, he calls Jesus the Light to the Gentiles. Because of that, the Church blesses candles on that day that will be used throughout the year. This includes the candles used the next day for the Blessing of Throats.
—Fr. Mike Comer

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