The Feast Of The Presentation Of The Lord
The Presentation of the Lord: Fra Angelico
Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.(Luke 2:29~32)
The Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord today, sometimes known as Candlemas. It marks the 40th day after Christ's birth. According to Jewish law and custom, a woman who had given birth was to go through a 40 day purification period. It was on this day that Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple.
To celebrate today's feast I have included an excerpt from a sermon by St Sophronius, a seventh century monk who was bishop and Patriarch in Jerusalem during this time. He defended the true and full humanity of Christ in his writings. I have also included some artwork and icons depicting this feast.
May the light of Christ shine through each of us in our daily lives.
Icon of the Presentation of the Lord: St Elias Orthodox Church, Austin, TX
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
~St Sophronius: Bishop and Early Church Father
Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.
The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows;the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.
The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendor, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendor.
Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which he prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.
By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in his honor.
James Tissot:The Presentation of Jesus In the Temple