Double of the II Class (1955 Calendar): February 2
Today is February 2nd - 40 days after Christmas. Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus to Simeon. Our Lord was presented to Simeon in the temple, as was required of the first born of all the Jewish people. This beautiful mystery of the Rosary is recorded in the Gospel according to St. Luke:
"And 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 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel."
[And His father and His mother marveled at what was said about Him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanu-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
And when they have performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him.]" (Luke 22:40)
This feast used to be called the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady. And, that is the essence of today's Gospel - Jesus Christ came to save us, and He came through Mary. Simeon's prophecy during this presentation was that Mary's heart too would be "pierced with a sword" when Our Lord would hang on the Cross. God chose to save us, and Mary is a part of the Gospel. She is in no way divine or close to equal to Our Lord. But, Mary is sinless, a doctrine we know must have been true for Our Lord to dwell within her. For the Lord could not dwell in and be born of a sinful person. This would make part of Our Lord of a sinner, but Our Lord is perfect. And, furthermore, by Mary's participation in the Paschal mystery of Our Redemption, she helped her Son, our Lord (Co-Redemptrix). This beautiful truth is revealed in that prophesy of Simeon. Mary did not save us, but her "yes" to God allowed our Lord to become man. God could have chosen numerous ways to save us but He chose the Cross - to show us the epitome of His love for us. And, He chose Mary for Him to dwell within.
Mary is important and today's feast reminds of us this. But, it also reminds us of our baptism. No longer are children circumcised and presented to the priest as the Book of Leviticus dictates. Things are different because we have a Savior. Today our purification comes in baptism, where by the grace of God our sins are washed clean. This beautiful sacrament saves us and renews us as the presentation did in the Jewish times. And just as the Jewish people were bound by the Law of Moses, we are bound by the Law of the Church.
But we have something greater, far greater. We have love, and love has a name - Jesus Christ.
For devotional acts for today, please see my post on Devotions for the Feast of the Presentation.
This is the Sequence for Candlemas, sung to Dominican chant by the Dominican friars at Blackfriars, Oxford.
Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that as Thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so Thou wouldst cause us too with purified hearts to be presented unto Thee. Through the same our Lord.
Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal