Blog # 441 Candlemas Day
Back when I was a boy February 2 was referred to as Candlemas Day. It got its name from the practice of blessing candles to be used at Mass and also a practice most Catholic families experienced of making sure there were new blessed candles in the 'sick call set' which hung on the wall of the dining room or some other room of the house. It was a special crucifix that opened up and contained within it a small bottle of holy water, a clean linen corporal and two blessed candles, all in preparation for a priest to come to anoint someone who might be sick or to bring Holy Communion to someone who might be unable to get to Church on Sundays. February 2 , the fortieth day after Christmas, is the day the Church celebrates as a significant Feast, the Presentation of Jesus in the temple in obedience to the law of Moses. I think the connection with that event in the life of Jesus and candles may have come from the identity of Jesus would later give for Himself as the Light of the world, a light shining in the darkness of error and sin.(Jn.8:12; 9:5).
I have recalled two valuable truths that celebrating the Feast have brought to my memory and focused it for me. The first is our faith in the humanity of Jesus, and the second is the honored place Mary is given in her human relationship with Jesus as His mother.
In God's response to the effects upon all of Adam's descendants of what we refer to as Original Sin , God promised to send a Redeemer from Heaven. In God's unimaginable power, mercy, justice, and wisdom, the promised Messiah would be equal to God and therefore capable and worthy of making a fitting apology and a just recompense to God on God's level, and also equal to us in our humanity so that justice be achieved through him on the human level as well, by someone who was descended from Adam. Jesus claimed to be that Messiah. The time had come! God's promise in Genesis would be fulfilled in him, Emmanuel. the Word of God, Incarnate, one of us, capable of suffering!
As one of us Jesus was obliged to obey the laws of God. The role of Mary and Joseph in today's Feast is similar to that of Catholic parents and God-parents at a baby's Baptism, pledging their support in bringing the child up and teaching him or her obedience to God's will. Jesus frequently took an occasion to declare his constant and universal obedience to the Father's will. In the Feast of the Presentation we have Mary giving witness to her dedication to God's will for him and for her in presenting him in the temple at the age of forty days in accordance with Mosaic law.