“In honor of the divine mystery we celebrate today let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and carry a light,” the text taken from the second reading of the office of readings for today, the Presentation of Our Lord. In that symbol of light, underlined of course by the blessings of the candles, one sees this observance as both a hearkening back and a looking forward: A hearkening back to the light celebrated at Christmas and the epiphany and a looking forward to the light of the Easter vigil which will herald the new birth given to Christ and all those who follow him in the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection.
In regard to the latter, the texts of the liturgy for this day celebrate the fulfillment of the Mosaic law, the offering of the first-born in the action of Mary’s sacrificial offering of her son in the Temple in the ritual of the redemption of the first born. And seen in that context we understand a bit more the mystery celebrated today where those charged with the care of this Divine person during his time among men present him to God and ransom his back. Hearkening back to the redemption of the first born at the time of the final plague inflicted upon the Egyptians, the presentation of the Lord makes first known a new paschal lamb, one who saves them from a plague worse than physical death, everlasting death. And associated to that salvific death we see in the words of aged Simeon reference to the one who with her spouse first offered him: Mary, whose heart will be pierced by the sword of sorrow at the sight of her Savior and Son raised up as a sign of contradiction on the Cross. “In honor of the divine mystery we celebrate today let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and carry a light.”
The light of the candles, blessed and borne today, recalls first and foremost that virgin Mother, a human person, who through the annunciation and her fiat becomes the bearer of a light divine. That light divine is given to Simeon, prophet, spokesman of Israel, the people of the covenant and witnessed to by Anna, anxious to tell all who were awaiting the redemption of Israel, Anna who we are told was in the temple day and night, worshipping God, living a life of prayer and fasting. That light divine enters the Temple, he who is the very temple of God, the receptacle of God’s presence, God himself. That light divine finally touches us and is communicated to us in baptism and the other sacraments, rekindled renewed each time we approach the sacred table each time we enter the sacred tribunal of reconciliation. That light divine is given us so that our entire Christian lives may be that slow and sometimes plodding but always persistent moving toward Him.
And so we pray today that this Eucharist and the communion we share with Him, the victim of the perfect sacrifice, the living temple, who is also priest and altar, may perfect grace within us and in the words of our closing prayer prepare us for that final meeting with Him when he God-willing will come to bring us into everlasting life.