On February 2, 40 days after Christmas, the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast is also called CANDLEMAS and sometimes “The feast of the ENCOUNTER”, although this name is not as well known.
Luke 2: 22- 24 tells us that in accordance with the Mosaic Law, 40 days after his birth, Jesus had to be presented in the temple and His mother Mary had to undergo ritual purification. Sacrifices also had to be offered as prescribed by the law.
“And when the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord; Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord…and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons”
The feast is also called “Candlemas” since Jesus, the light of the world was made manifest to humankind in the persons of Simeon and Anna, two Jewish stalwarts (Luke 2: 25 – 38). In most Catholic churches parishioners bring candles to be blessed for use at home and in church.
The “Presentation in the temple” is one of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary.
Pope Paul V1 tells us that the word, “mystery” means “ a reality imbued with the hidden presence of God”.
This ENCOUNTER between Jesus, Anna and Simeon is very significant for us Christian believers as it is “imbued with the hidden presence of God”.
Anna and Simeon waited all their lives for this very moment when they “encountered” the Lord Jesus. This surely was a very joyful time for them. Indeed it was so joyful that Simeon was ready to die. He said, “Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace…because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 29 – 32). They both felt that what they were brought on earth for was accomplished when they publicly acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Indeed this event was totally imbued with the presence of God, not only because of the presence of the baby Jesus but because of the total faith of the others present – Mary, Joseph, Anna and Simeon.
Lesson Plan for Candlemas – Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
In your Religious Education class read the key sections from St Luke’s gospel to the students. The following points provide starters for discussion.
- Where did this take place? Who was there? What happened? Why?
- If you were Anna or Simeon how would you describe the joy that you felt?
- If the words spoken to Mary about “a sword” were spoken to you, how would you react?
- What are the values and virtues that Anna and Simeon showed?
- Simeon says, “now let me die…’ what is the lesson for us in Simeon’s words?
- Both Anna and Simeon spent most of their lives in the temple praying and waiting for this “encounter” with Christ. Obviously you cannot spend as much time as they did in church. But how, when and in whom can you encounter Christ? How can you prepare yourself for these encounters?
- How can you make your heart and your body a “temple” for the Lord?
Things to do:
- Say a decade of the Rosary, meditating on this joyful mystery of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the temple.
- Compose a prayer to Jesus praising and thanking him for being “the light of the world”.
- Decide on one thing you can do to follow in the footsteps of Anna or Simeon and make a firm commitment to keep this promise.