The Presentation in the Temple
Also called The Purification of the Virgin, The Meeting of our Lord in the Temple, or Candlemass
Mary and Joseph, as faithful and law-abiding Jews, had to wait forty days after the birth of their son before going to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice for Mary’s purification. Many families could not afford the required lamb and pigeon (or dove), so the law conceded that two pigeons or doves would suffice (Lev. 5:11; 12:2-8). The Torah stipulated that the first-born of both man and animal were to be consecrated to the Lord (Exod. 13:12-13). The animals were sacrificed but the human beings were set apart to serve the their God for the rest of their lives, although in practice the Levite priests actually served in place of the first-born males (Num. 3:11-13).
The Jewish people in Jesus’ day (and indeed in ours) awaited the consolation of Israel, the comfort the Messiah would bring on his appearing (Isa. 40:1-2). Simeon and Anna recognized immediately – clearly the work of the Holy Spirit – that Jesus was the Messiah, the ‘consolation of Israel’. Jesus is not just the consolation of Israel: he is the consolation of the whole world.
On this holy feast-day we each have an opportunity to consecrate our lives anew to the Lord. How do we do this? We can simply make a prayer of re-dedication to God which can take many forms. It can be a simple heartfelt prayer reaffirming our baptismal promises or a re-visiting of our religious or marriage vows. Or it can be a prayer which asks the Holy Spirit to renew our sense of vocation as a priest or religious or as a lay person in our chosen job, trade or profession.
We gave our life to the when we were baptized but the call to conversion continues to resound throughout our lives and ‘this second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole church’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1428). A re-dedication or renewal of vows or promises is a movement of conversion within our heart and is always a work of the Holy Spirit.
Today, step out in faith, whatever your vocation, whatever your calling, and give your life to the Lord, in the assurance of God’s grace, blessing and renewal in the power of the Holy Spirit.
2 ta’ Frar