Why do we do that? Catholic Traditions Explained

Luke’s Gospel is the only one to mention the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. What is Luke trying to communicate here and what connection does it have with Mary?

February 2 is exactly forty days after December 25, the nativity of Jesus. Jewish law (Ex 13:2, 12) dictated that Jesus, as the firstborn, be consecrated to God. This was done by the parents as they presented their Son in the Temple.

Jewish law further specified (Lv 12:2-8) that a mother was ritually impure after giving birth, and that she had to wait a set period of time (forty days for a boy) before she was to offer a sacrifice to the Lord for purification.

The convergence of these two Jewish regulations occasions Luke’s account of both the Presentation of the Lord and the Purification of Mary. These days the liturgical emphasis is more on the Presentation of Jesus. Luke highlights the role of Simeon and Anna, two righteous Jews who recognized Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah and praised God for being able to see and experience such a marvel in their lifetimes.

Simeon’s prayer concerning the special role of Jesus states that Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” This phrase eventually originated the custom of blessing candles on this day which were to be used in the ceremonies, rituals, and processions throughout the church year. Thus February 2 is also known as Candlemas Day. This day is indeed a rich feast to be savored.

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