Malachi 3.1-4; Psalm 23; Luke 2.22-40
This feast (commonly called Candlemas because of the ancient tradition of blessing the candles for liturgical use on this day), which brings the 40-day Christmas season to a close, offers a tapestry of themes and motifs: the Light that will enlighten all nations of which the aged Simeon sings; the long-awaited but terrifying Lord the ancient prophet declared would come into his Temple to purify it; an aged prophetess, Anna whose burbling elation contrasts the poverty and taciturnity of Joseph and Mary, seemingly overwhelmed by the magnificence of the Temple. And the forty-day-old Christ child himself, who in the overture of his life contrasts with Simeon who apparently is near to his dying breath.
Simeon’s prayer has since the 4th Century been sung by the Church at the close of each day, at once a prayer and a Creed: an acknowledgement that the Lord of our longing has come down from heaven for us and for our salvation, and a prayer that his Light would fill us and be transmitted through us. Simeon stands as the pivotal figure between the Light and Joy of Christmas and the paradoxical Light and Joy of Easter as he declares that this Child is a Sign of God’s presence in the midst of his people that we must either cradle or utterly reject.