Newsletter for Sunday 2 February 2020

31 Jan

‘A Light for Revelation to the Gentiles’

Today, Sunday 2nd February, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord or Candlemas, is the fortieth day after Christmas and the traditional end of Christmastide.  It was forty days after His birth into this world that Our Lord was presented in the Temple by His Mother, Mary, and where she also underwent the ceremony of ritual purification.  For this reason, in the traditional Roman Rite, today’s Feast is known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of course, she needed no purification because she was a virgin before, during and after Our Lord’s birth and she is also the Immaculate Conception.  Neither did Our Lord need to be presented in the Temple to be consecrated to God, because He was the very Son of God by nature.  But Our Lady carried out this ceremony as it would have given God infinitely more glory than all the sacrifices of the Old Testament put together, because it was His Divine Son Who was being offered as the Victim for our sins, the culmination of which would take place on Mount Calvary thirty-three years later.

The blessing and procession of lighted candles which takes place on this Feast represents Christ. Simeon proclaimed Him to be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” The wax of the candle represents Christ’s body and the wick His human soul.  Candles for liturgical use have a high percentage of beeswax in them.  Bees for the early Fathers of the Church were seen as a representation of Our Lady, because worker bees are virginal in that they do not reproduce and are even referred to as the ‘virgin bees’. They produce the wax which is the flesh of the candle which represents the body of Our Lord.  So this is symbolic of Mary ever a virgin giving Our Lord His human body. The flame of the candle represents the Light of Christ Who came to enlighten our darkness.  So when we process into the church with our lit candles, we commemorate Christ coming into the Temple two thousand years ago.  As we carry these candles in procession, may they also remind us that we were all enlightened by Him when we received the Faith at our Baptism, and that we are called to live in imitation of Him so that we become a light for others.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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