2 Feb – Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life
This feast celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts. In many Western liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season.
This feast is also known by other traditional names including Candelmas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. Prior to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Candlemas marked the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season.
The Western term ‘Candlemas’ (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on Feb 2 (forty days after Christmas) blessed beeswax candles with an aspergilium (liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water) for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home.
Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasized in favour of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.
“Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared for all the nations to see.”
The reflection today focuses on Simeon’s outlook in life and how we should model ourselves after him. Very little is known about Simeon, except for certain verses of the bible describing him as being “righteous and devout”. We assume that he was old, as the scriptures depict him as someone nearing the end of his life, even though his age wasn’t explicitly mentioned. However, it was notable that he probably dedicated his entire life to prayer and service with the sole purpose of awaiting and encountering Christ during his earthly life. Once that has been achieved, he proclaimed to the Lord his preparedness to “go in peace” after the salvific encounter.
In contemplation, most of us have probably encountered Christ spiritually in one way or another, at certain moments in our lives. Yet, few would perhaps describe that as the epitome of our lives; something we consider as our purpose in life, and in the wake of it, are contented to part with our earthly desires and return to the Lord in peace. Death is never something that we look forward to, particularly when one is in the pink of health. Besides, we have too much to live for in this world — our earthly desires and ceaseless yearning for longevity. We are also afraid to part with all things that we hold close to our hearts, nearness to our loved ones and material possessions. Nonetheless, Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, illustrated his contrarian view on his eagerness for the day of his release, being in a dilemma of deciding whether to keep serving Jesus on earth, or die and unite with Jesus in eternity. “What shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two” (Philippians 1:22–23). Still, when our work here is finally complete, why stay a moment longer? Which brings about the question of what exactly is our human purpose and our work on earth. Personally, my opinion of the human purpose extends beyond marriage or monasticism, or for that fact, anything else besides cultivating that eternal relationship with God. It starts from the time when we’re born and continues throughout the rest of our existence here, regardless of our circumstances and achievements. It is perhaps something infinite that we have to cultivate, even during our transition from life to death and beyond. Of course, in normal circumstances, no one has full knowledge and control of the day of his death except God. In bowing to His schedule, we should also be eagerly anticipating the arrival of our day of union with the Lord, keeping faith in His plan for us, just like old wise Simeon did.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we come to you in intercession for everyone dear to us, asking that you would grant us contentment in this life and the anticipation of our union with you in eternity. Grant comfort to our souls, ease our fears of death and may we always be reminded to abide in you forever. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for conquering death and showing us the way of salvation. With the blessings for the relations with our loved ones on earth, we thank you for comforting us in our times of need and sorrow and giving us the hope of joyful reunion in your presence.
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