Forty days before this feast that we commonly call in England by the name Candlemas, the child Jesus, the divine Word – who was and is God – who was born a man in a humble basement of a dwelling in the village of Bethlehem on the south side of Jerusalem. Entering the world he had made but without ceremony, to become one of us. He put off his heavenly glory. He set aside his all knowingness and all powerfulness for the weakness and dependence of human babyhood with the many limitations that are all too familiar to us!! The purpose of this incarnation was that we might become rich.
Important in this “setting aside the heavenly glory” was manifested in the first public event, of the holy child is the entry to the Temple at Jerusalem. The Temple is the chief meeting place of the people of Israel with their God. Here the light and sacred presence of the Son of God would be revealed to Simeon the priest and Anna the prophetess who would both receive and welcome him. They were the first two religious figures of the Jewish nation, who having devoted themselves to a life of waiting expectantly and in anticipation for the “promised Messiah to come, recognised in the small child the sign of heaven. Simeon’s words to Mary the Blessed mother are a true prophetic sign of how by dying and rising again, the Christ child would one day rebuild the Temple made with stones and mortar into a living temple, as the Church, the body of Christ that this time would be made from people’s lives. This new temple would be the place that would become his home through the Holy Spirit.. We who are the people baptised in his name and who have received the same Holy Spirit are the living stones of the temple of the Lord.
[Candlemas is one of the key days in the Christian calendar at many levels for it not only looks back to Bethlehem but forward to the Cross of Golgatha;, a meeting of the old and new temple, but also it points forward to Pentecost.] At Pentecost the promise was fulfilled and sealed that was being manifested at the feast of the purification of the mother Mary whose body had been the temple and dwelling place of God through the Holy Spirit. The Church would quickly see in these events, a coming together in our own self understanding of the body of Christ, and bearers of his life in the world and so by the grace of God, we are, limbs, organs and members one of another.
Fr. Peter Moss † 2017