Fr Albert’s Reflection – The Presentation of the Lord

Today, the 2nd of February, we interrupt our progression through the Liturgical year, to stop and meditate on the Solemnity of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. Traditionally, we refer to this feast as Candlemas, because of the blessing of the candles at the beginning of the Mass. The blessing of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the True Light, ‘the light to enlighten the Gentiles’ (Lk 2, 32). In the Eastern Churches, this feast is referred to as the Feast of the Encounter, where the Messiah encounters His people for the first time. Jesus’ solemn encounter with His people of Israel happened in the Temple of Jerusalem when he was still only 40 days old. Animated by the desire to fulfill what was prescribed by the Jewish Law, the newlywed parents, Mary and Joseph, took Jesus in their arms to the Father’s House. At the Temple, they are received by two elderly people, Simeon and Anna. Simeon and Anna are both described as advanced in years, thus representing the history of the People of Israel. What is new is that both Simeon and Anna are at the Temple because they were led there by the Holy Spirit. But Jesus is the centre of this encounter between the Holy Family and these two representatives of the Holy People of God. It is Jesus who moves everything, who attracts one and all to the Temple, which is the House of His Father. Jesus brings together young people full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord and the elderly, full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a singular encounter between observance and prophecy, where the young are the observers and the elderly are the prophets. In reality, the observance of the Law is animated by the Spirit himself, and the prophecy is moved in the way traced by the Law. Today’s Gospel presents us with the encounter between youth and old age; between the Old Testament and the New Testament; between hope and fulfilment; between birth and the Resurrection. From the very first moments of his life, Jesus is making his way to his glorious death in Jerusalem. As a result, the presentation calls us to spend our life living fully for God, devoted to the will of the Father. The presentation of our complete gift of self, out of love, leads us in faith to the hope-filled assumption of eternal life.