Tag Archives: Candlemas


Presentation of the Lord (Purification of B.V.M.; Candlemas), Gospel Reading: Lk2:22-32

It was thus prophesied of old: “Mother Sion says: ‘And a man was made man in her; and the Highest himself has founded her.'”

O almighty power of a newborn child! O magnificence coming down from heaven to earth! He is still being carried in the womb, and is saluted by John the Baptist from the womb of his mother; is presented in the temple, and is recognised by Simeon, an old man, famous and full of years, proved and crowned. First he recognised, then he adored, then he said: “Now dismiss your servant, O Lord, in peace; because my eyes have seen your salvation.”

“My eyes have seen your salvation”

He delayed his going from the world, that he might see him born, he by whom the world was made. The old man knew the Child, and in the Child became a child. He, who was filled with devotion, found himself renewed in old age.

Simeon, the old man, bore Christ the Child, Christ ruled the old age of Simeon.

It had been said to him by the Lord that he would not taste death before he had seen Christ born of the Lord.

Christ was born, and in the old age of the world the desire of the old man was fulfilled.

He who found a world broken with age came to an aged man.

“Show us, O Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation”

He would not indeed stay longer in this world, and in this world he desired to see Christ, singing and saying with the prophet: “Show us, O Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation.” And lastly, that thus you should know it to be his joy, he says: “Now dismiss your servant in peace: for my eyes have seen your salvation.”

The Prophets sang that the Creator of heaven and earth should eventually be on earth with men; the angel announced that the Creator of spirit and flesh should come in the flesh; John from the womb saluted the Saviour in the womb: Simeon the old man recognised the Child as God.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964


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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in Words of Wisdom


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When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus 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.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

“Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.”

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.” There was a prophetess also, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


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“In accordance with Jewish law the Child born of Mary was circumcised on the eighth day after His birth. In this way He became legally a member of the Chosen People of God. Though He was, as the prophet Zacharias says, ‘the angel of the covenant,’ nevertheless He submits to the Law of Moses. By undergoing the rite of circumcision He binds Himself to God and to a communion with the Chosen People of God.


It was also in obedience to the Law of Moses that Mary herself went to the Temple to offer two turtle doves or two young pigeons for her own legal purification. On the same occasion Mary and Joseph consecrated the Boy Jesus to god as the Mosaic Law prescribed.


As Mary and Joseph entered the Temple precincts with the Child Jesus they were met by an aged man called Simeon. It had been revealed to him that he should not die until he had seen the Christ of the Lord. When he saw the Child Jesus in Mary’s arms he was filled with the Spirit of God and he took the Child into his own arms and said:


‘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 of revelation to the Gentiles, and a glory for thy people Israel’ (Luke 2:29-32).


The aged Simeon is filled with the spirit of prophecy and he sees that the Child will bring God’s blessings not only to the Chosen People of Israel but also to the other nations of the world. But he foresees not only glorious things. He foresees also pain and tragedy. Turning to Mary he says: ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed’ (Luke 2:34-35).


At the same time a holy widow named Anna approached the Child. Moved also by the Spirit of God, she recognised Him as the Saviour of the world. To all who were interested in redemption she cried out that this Child was the long-awaited Deliverer.


From the very beginning then the Child Jesus appears as a mysterious figure. He will be a glory to His own race, to Israel. He will bring the light of divine truth to the Gentiles. He will bring redemption and deliverance to the world. But He will also be contradicted by many, and so He will cause many to rise in redemption while others, contradicting Him, fall.


Some time after the dedication in the Temple occurs the incident of the Magi. We do not know for certain who the Magi were. The early Christians believed them to be priests of the Persian religion. Some have thought that they came from Arabia. Others hold that they were kings from the East. It seems probable that they were at least men who were aware of the Messianic expectations of the Jews. They knew that the Jews were expecting the advent of some great king.


Having observed in the sky a new star (perhaps a comet), they associated this new star with the coming of the expected king to Israel. Following the star, they arrived in Jerusalem and inquired the whereabouts of the new-born king. The news of their quest reached the ears of Herod the Great. Herod was always suspicious of plots to seize his throne and, no doubt, saw in these inquiries the result of some plot to dethrone him. He sent for the Magi. On learning the nature of their mission he sent for the chief priests and the Scribes and asked them where the expected Messias was to be born.


The priests and the Scribes, who were well versed in the Sacred Books of Israel, remembered the prophecy of Micheas [Micah] and told the king: ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for thus it is written through the prophet, ‘And thou, Bethlehem, of the land of Juda, art by no means least among the princes of Juda; for from thee shall come forth a leader who shall rule my people Israel” (Matthew 2:5-6, cf. Micah 5:2).

Herod told the Magi where the Child might be found. He also asked them to bring word to him when they had found the Child so that he also might go to worship Him.



The Magi went to Bethlehem and found the star standing over the place where the Child was. They worshipped the Child, giving Him presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh. While they slept later, they were warned by God not to return to Herod.


After their departure Joseph was also warned in a dream to take the Child and to flee into Egypt because Herod intended to kill the Child. Heeding the warning, Joseph, Mary and the Child fled into Egypt.


Herod, when the Magi did not return, was very angry. He sent his soldiers to Bethlehem with order to kill all male children two years old or younger they might find there. In this way he hoped to destroy any possible threat to his own rule.


After Herod’s death in 4 B.C. an angel told Joseph in a dream that there was no longer any danger to the Child and they might return in safety to their own land. Joseph, thus counselled by the angel, returned with Mary and Jesus to their homeland and to Nazareth. In this way God Himself created a parallel between the history of Jesus the Saviour and the history of the Chosen People. As God had called them out of the land of Egypt, so He also calls His Son out of Egypt. St Matthew noticed this resemblance long ago and wrote that in this way there was ‘fulfilled what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’ ‘ (Matthew 2:15; cf. Hosea 11:1).


It was at Nazareth that Jesus spent the most of His life. Very few details of the early life of Jesus are known to us. St Luke tells us that at Nazareth the Child grew and became strong. He was full of wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.


It is also St Luke who tells of one significant incident in the early years of Jesus. When Jesus was twelve years of age He went up to Jerusalem with Mary and Joseph to celebrate the feast of Passover. When Joseph and Mary were returning to Nazareth they discovered that Jesus was not with the caravan. They went back to Jerusalem to seek Him.


On the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers of the Law. As St Luke tells us, Jesus was listening to the doctors of the Law and asking them questions, and in His turn answering the questions put to Him. The bystanders were astounded at His answers.

It is permissible to see here a manifestation of the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus. It is not necessary, and it might even be degrading to Jesus, to imagine that He was deliberately displaying His knowledge to the discomfiture of the learned doctors of the Law gathered in the Temple. It is enough to note that at the age of twelve Jesus appears sufficiently versed in the Law of Moses to speak intelligently and impressively to those who were expert in their interpretation of the Law.


What is more important is the fact that on this occasion Jesus shows that He is aware of the fact that He is to perform a great work for God, His Father. When Mary says to Him, ‘Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold, thy father and I have been seeking thee and sorrowing,’ Jesus answers: ‘How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?’ (Luke 2:48-49).


This answer must have seemed strange to the rabbis with whom Jesus had been conversing. It was not understood, as St Luke tells us, by Mary and Joseph. If it were only the answer of a very clever boy who enjoyed the experience of conversing on equal terms with the venerated exponents of the Law of Moses, then it would bear an air of unfilial smartness. But St Luke – even Jesus Himself – seems to be saying something more than this. He speaks of the affairs of God as ‘my Father’s business.’ This seems to intimate that Jesus is aware of the fact that He is, in a special way, the Son of God.


Yet, despite His consciousness of His special relation to God the Father, St Luke tells us that after this incident Jesus returned with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth and was subject to them. At Nazareth Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men.

It is proper to suppose that at Nazareth Jesus showed the same interest in learning the Law of Moses as He had shown in the Temple at Jerusalem. Moreover it is most probable that He learned the craft of carpentering, which was the trade followed by Joseph, His foster father. Like the other people of the locality He probably spoke Aramaic, the language of the region, and possibly Greek and Hebrew. Nazareth was situated in a region of farm labourers and vine dressers. Later on we find Him associated with fishermen in Galilee. From all these sources He later drew the homely and simple images which He used with such telling effect in His parables.

Thus, for some thirty years Jesus lived in a small village waiting for the moment appointed by God His Father for the beginning of the work of redemption.”
– Martin J. Healy, 1959


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V. Lord Jesus,
You issued from the heart of the eternal Father
for us and for our salvation
and were conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
in the womb of the humble Virgin Mary.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. Lord Jesus,
during the visit of Your mother, Mary,
to her cousin Elizabeth,
John the Baptist, Your herald and forerunner,
was filled with the Holy Spirit,
and danced for joy in his mother’s womb.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. Lord Jesus,
though by nature divine,
You did not parade Your equality with God,
but became a human being
and were enclosed for nine months in Mary’s womb.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. Lord Jesus,
born in Bethlehem, the City of David,
You were wrapped in swaddling clothes
and laid in a manger;
You were heralded by angelic choirs
and visited by wondering shepherds.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. All glory, Jesus, be to You
for evermore the Virgin’s Son,
to Father and to Paraclete
be praise while endless ages run!
Christ has drawn near to us, alleluia!

R. Come, let us adore our newborn Lord, alleluia!

V. Let us pray:
Pour forth, O Lord,
Your grace into our hearts,
that we to whom the incarnation of Christ, Your Son
was made known by the message of an angel,
may by His passion and cross
be brought to the glory of His resurrection;
through the same Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

V. Lord Jesus,
on the eighth day after Your birth,
You were circumcised according to the law of Moses,
and were given the holy name of Jesus,
the name revealed to Mary and Joseph
before His conception.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.
V. Lord Jesus,
by the leading of a star,
You were revealed to the Magi of the East,
who adored You on Mary’s lap
and honoured You with mystical gifts:
gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. Lord Jesus,
forty days after Your birth,
Your parents presented You in the temple,
where the aged Simeon and Anna recognised You
as the light of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. Lord Jesus,
after the visit of the Magi,
an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream
and warned him to flee to Egypt
with You and Your mother,
to escape King Herod’s fury.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. All glory, Jesus, be to You
for evermore the Virgin’s Son,
to Father and to Paraclete
be praise while endless ages run!
Christ is born for us, alleluia!

R. Come, let us adore Him, alleluia!

V. Let us pray:
Abba, dear Father,
by the fruitful virginity of the holy Virgin Mary,
You conferred on us the blessings of salvation.
Grant that we may experience the power of her intercession
through whom we received the Author of life,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

V. Lord Jesus,
Your flight into Egypt snatched You
from a cruel death,
but a voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children,
and refusing to be comforted,
because they were no more.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. Lord Jesus,
after cruel Herod’s death,
an angel again appeared to Joseph in a dream,
commanding him to take You and Your mother
back to the land of Israel,
where You made Your home in Nazareth of Galilee.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. Lord Jesus,
in the humble home of Nazareth,
You lived in obedience to Your parents,
and grew in wisdom and age
and in divine and human favour,
while Your mother treasured all these things in her heart.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. Lord Jesus,
when You were twelve years old,
at Passover you lingered in Jerusalem;
and after three days Your parents found You
in the temple,
sitting among the teachers of the Law,
listening to them and asking them questions.

R. Word made Flesh, Emmanuel our God, have mercy on us.

V. All glory, Jesus, be to You
For evermore the Virgin’s Son,
to Father and to Paraclete
be praise while endless ages run!
The Word was made Flesh, alleluia!

R. And came to live among us, alleluia!

V. Let us pray:
God of peace and consolation,
as we recall and worship
the mysteries of Your Son’s infancy and childhood,
may we be filled with the spirit of humility,
grow into the full stature of the children of God,
and come at last to our heavenly home
which You promise to Your adopted children and heirs.
We ask this through the same Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

R. Amen.


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