Traditionally Jewish male infants were brought to the temple to be presented to the Lord God. The mother, who was considered unclean, was purified at that time. It is not really a Baptism, but a moment of thanksgiving and dedication to God. We catholics had also called this Feast, candle mas, since we honor the light of the world, Jesus Christ, and would bless all of the church candles today. The latter occurs less often than it had, but we continue to honor Jesus' being brought into the temple.
We are again introduced to Anna and Simeon. One has the impression that these two are elderly, and extremely devout. I am reminded of the elderly parishioners I grew up with at St. Patrick in Rockford. Many were in church thirty to forty minutes before mass on the weekdays, to pray different devotions, and the rosary. My mom and dad would probably remember their names, as a child I was intrigued by them. Then there was my great-grandmother Soroka. When she wasn't in the kitchen making a meal, or in the garden, she was praying the rosary.
Two things come to mind for me today. One is the importance of devotions in our faith lives. I know catholics get much grief for their various prayers and practices. But such actions draws attention to the sacred in our lives. More so it is important for us to continue to bless and praise God for the many good things we have received. "What return do I make to the Lord for all that the Lord have done for me?" We have our church building open all day. We have had some problems, and it has been suggested that we close the church. But I see folks going in and out to pray. Some stop by after school or even after work.
The other thing that I am more convinced of than ever, is that our Church needs to be light in the world today. The parishes themselves have to become places of refuge for peoples who wander through gunk and yuck. At one time we had over a dozen small faith sharing groups. I would love to have a part-time counselor, parish nurse, a group for young adults. In a very practical way, the parish must be a source of light and hope to peoples. St. James comments that we cannot walk past hurting people and say stay warm and well fed, and not see to their bodily needs.
As I am very snowed in today I will be contemplating these mysteries. The Kingdom of God is a place of light, happiness, and peace. What do we do, how do we respond, after we have said, "Amen."