The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
"A Light of Revelation to the Gentiles"
- Date: February 2
- Type of Feast: Feast
- Readings: Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40 (full text here)
- Prayers: Nunc Dimities, the Canticle of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32); see below
- Other Names for the Feast: Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, the Meeting of the Lord, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
History of the Feast of the Presentation of the LordAccording to Jewish law, the firstborn male child belonged to God, and the parents had to "buy him back" on the 40th day after his birth, by offering a sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:24) in the temple (thus the "presentation" of the child).
On that same day, the mother would be ritually purified (thus the "purification").Saint Mary and Saint Joseph kept this law, even though, since Saint Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Christ, she would not have had to go through ritual purification. In his gospel, Luke recounts the story (Luke 2:22-39).
When Christ was presented in the temple, "there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25) When Saint Mary and Saint Joseph brought Christ to the temple, Simeon embraced the Child and prayed the Canticle of Simeon:
Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).