Today’s feast is sometimes known as the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, sometimes as Candlemas. In the Eastern Church it has been called the Meeting of Christ with Simeon. Such a variety of names is sufficient testimony to the wealth of meaning that generations of Christians have discovered in this narrative.
The title, “The Presentation,” reminds us of the Jewish law (Exodus 13:2, 22:29) that every firstborn son had to be dedicated to God in memory of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt, when the firstborn sons of the Egyptians died and those of Israel were spared.
When Mary placed her small son into the arms of Simeon, it was the meeting of the Old and New Dispensations. The old sacrifices, the burnt offerings and oblations, were done away; a new and perfect offering, one that perfected and completed the older sacrifices, had come into the Temple. God has himself provided a Lamb for the burnt-offering (Genesis 22:8), his only Son. The offering was to be made once for all on the cross, “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world”. At every Eucharist those who are in Christ recall and re-present that sinless offering, as they are united with Christ in his sacrifice.
- Adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts
Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The appointed propers for the Presentation of our Lord (one of the principal Feasts of our Lord) are published on the Lectionary Page website.