Sermon thoughts – Presentation of Child Jesus in the Temple
Today is the last day of the classical Christmas Time.
Jesus was presented in the Temple 40 days after his birth.
This feast has got several titles:
It is celebrated as the day of the Purification of Mother Mary.
On that day Mary too comes to temple to be purified.
Under the Mosaic Law, a woman was ritually “unclean” for 40 days after childbirth. She had to present herself to the priests and offer sacrifice in order to be “purified.”
But this feast emphasizes Jesus’ first appearance in the Temple more than Mary’s purification.
It was also the tradition of Jews to Present and dedicate the first born Male members to Yahweh. This was the commemoration of the freedom from Egyptian Slavery (cfr Ex 13, 1ff).
In the Eastern traditions, this day is considered as the day of “Meeting”.
It can be: Jesus meets Yahweh in the Jerusalem Temple.
Or the old prophet Simeon meets the “Christ” in Jesus.
At the beginning of the eighth century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession; at the end of the same century the blessing and distribution of candles which continues to this day became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name: Candlemas.
All these instances are attributing to the words of Jesus:
I am the light of the world”.
Jesus is often mentioned in connection with the “light”.
He heals many blinds. He teaches his followers that they are light (Mt 5, 14) and warns to keep their sight clean and proper (Mt 6, 22f). There are many passages that connects Jesus with light.
His birth had to do with light – a star.
When he dies on cross, it was darkness in the whole land.
Jesus is light
He is the one who purifies us.
He is the one who brings us to God.
Mary and Joseph lived closer to God in the presence of Jesus
Many other lived and experienced God nearer than ever in Jesus.
Through his words and concern they experienced more light in their lives.
As Pp Paul VI says:
“The candle tells us: by burning, and being consumed in the burning. A spark of fire, a ray of love, an inevitable immolation are celebrated over that pure, straight candle, as, pouring forth its gift of light, it exhausts itself in silent sacrifice”
Let us try to bring some light in our presence.
Let us bring people near to God. Amen.
Fr Thomas Kalathil