This is the commemoration of Jesus’ presentation in the Temple in Jerusalem, on the fortieth day following his birth. This was in accordance with the law laid down in the Book of Leviticus, that the mother of a male child should be ritually purified following the birth. In many Celtic lands it is traditionally known as ‘Mary of the Candle’.
Luke records that the Holy Family met two elderly people in the Temple, who had been seeking God and His Messiah. Simeon was waiting for this event so that he may die and go happily to his rest, and this is reflected in the song which he sings, ‘Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace…for I have seen Your salvation…’ He also foretells ‘the falling and rising of many in Israel’ as a result of the child’s life, and declares that a sword will pierce Mary’s soul also when Jesus is spoken against. The other person who met the family and gave thanks to God for the child was Anna.
Joseph and Mary did everything required in the Law, including making the prescribed offering, which in their case was that for poor people, ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons’.
In the Celtic lands Candlemas was a Quarter Day, along with May Day, Lammas (August 1st) and New Year (November 1st), when rents were to be paid and debts made good. At the Temple Joseph and Mary paid their dues to God and made good their debt of thanks for the safe delivery of the Saviour of the World.
Lord, You have taught us through the prophet Micah that the sacrifice You desire from us is that we should act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we offer this sacrifice and so light a candle for Your Kingdom in every land on earth. Amen.