This past week we celebrated Candlemas Day. Unless you are fully tuned in to the liturgical calendar you may not be familiar with this feast. Candlemas is celebrated in conjunction with the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. Forty days after Christmas, the Church commemorates when Mary and Joseph, in observance of Mosaic Law, brought Baby Jesus to the temple.
When we read in Luke’s Gospel about Jesus’ presentation in the temple, we also hear of a man named Simeon, who had been promised by God that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. Simeon recognizes Baby Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. Full of wonder, Simeon takes Baby Jesus in his arms and he utters a prayer which seems to be the origins of the Candlemas tradition.
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel. (Luke 2:29–32)
In Simeon’s words, we are reminded that we are called to be people who live in the light, the light that was revealed to all the nations at the coming of Jesus. So, on Candlemas Day, all of the candles to be used in the church for the coming year are blessed. This serves as a reminder that the candles we see in Church represent Jesus, the Light of the World.