Candlemas

by Sr Mary Felix Rileyo.p.

To-day February 2nd we celebrate a feast-day which is accepted by The Church as The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord which celebrates the events recorded in today’s Gospel reading taken from St. Luke ch.2: 20-35 which is worth reading, pondering, and questioning.

I would like to share my thoughts with you on this reading, I feel particularly drawn to the figures of Simeon and Anna. I can almost hear your reaction “Hold on- what can two old people living 2000 years ago teach us in our day and age?” I respond to you “Hold on you will be surprised!” True we have little information to go on, and we have scant knowledge of them and their lives. I suggest we look at the material we have, and under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and the Church’s teaching see what we make of it.

To start with we see a connection with the Temple, with its fabric, surroundings, and functions which were many, one of the reasons being its architecture which was constructed to a plan that produced a decorative interior flanked by varying levels of floors, tiers, and alcoves to particular measurements of space to accommodate the spiritual and social needs of those who visited the Temple and those who worked there e.g. the priests, musicians, and teachers, of the law. The Temple also would have had a social centre - not in the sense of bingo sessions and tea dances - The Jews had a great concern for the widow and the poor which would have included the elderly.

There was a lot of interaction and communication within the local community which dealt with housing, education and health issues among the people. The Temple also accommodated stall holders often selling animals and birds for the sacrificial altars Departments would have been erected where couples would  come at set times and dates to present their first born sons to the Lord which was the law prescribed by Moses. So they were many entrances and exits to cope with the diversity and needs of the Temple congregation.

With this background information in view we start to have  a better chance to look at Simeon and Anna Studying this Gospel passage we spot many themes common to them both - the Holy Spirit, prayer, old age thanksgiving  blessings, light, perseverance, devotion, watching and listening while seeking for the truth in the quest “to see the Lord.” The Gospel indicates and suggests that Anna and Simeon used the ingredients of their lives to tell others about Jesus as Preachers of The Word Our scriptural text goes on to point out that whatever age or limitations one might experience one can still effectively preach This Word providing one is imbued in a life of prayer and virtue which has been bestowed on us through the sacraments. May these two saintly prophets help us.

To Praise, To Bless, To Preach.