Today, forty days after the birth of Jesus, we celebrate the official end of the Christmas season with a festival of light. Candles are blessed today, they are symbols of “the Light to Enlighten the Gentiles and the Glory of God’s People.” Rejoice today as we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
In today’s Feast, we see Mary and Joseph submitting to the Law of Moses in bringing their Son to the Temple to be offered to God as their first-born. We, thus, mark an end to the whole period which resonates with a sense of light. Christmas itself, taking place just after the winter solstice, is the celebration of the end of the darkness of winter and the coming of light into the world, especially “the Light of the World.” Twelve days later, there was the feast of the Epiphany, when the light of a star guided Gentile outsiders (the Magi) to pay homage to the same “Light of the World.”
The prophet Malachi (3, 1-4) wrote: “Suddenly there comes to the Temple the Lord whom you seek and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. ‘Yes, He is coming,’ says the Lord of hosts.” This is a clear Old Testament reference to Jesus, as the Word of God and the One who would inaugurate the New Covenant between God and His people. The prophecy went on to warn that the coming Messiah would be a real challenge, He would be “like the refiner’s fire.” He would refine the sons of Levi, “refining them like gold or silver, that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord.” It remains true: for those who welcome His message and His call, Jesus is Good News!