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Feb 4, 2020

Candlemas and the Glory of the Lord

Dr. Edward Sri

On Candlemas, Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus and bless the candles that will be used in the Liturgy throughout the following year. Reflecting on the prophesy of Simeon that we read in Scripture on this great feast, Dr. Sri explains how Jesus’ Presentation marks a climactic moment in all of Salvation History.

Today’s episode draws amazing connections between God’s “glory” in the Old Testament, Jesus’ incarnation in the New Testament, and Christ’s continued real presence in the Holy Eucharist. 


God’s “Glory” in the Old Testament

God’s “glory” was used to refer to God’s holy presence that filled the Temple 

  • Exodus 40: The glory of the Lord fills the Holy of Holies. The God of the universe dwells with Israel.
  • Ezekiel 10-11: Ezekiel has a vision wherein the glory of the Lord departs from the Temple because of Israel’s wickedness and disobedience.

Around 586 BC, the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and carried Israel off to slavery. Over five hundred years later, when the Jews returned and rebuilt the Temple, things weren’t the same. The glory of the Lord that had once dwelt there hadn’t returned, but the Jews hoped that one day God’s glory would return to them.

God’s Glory in the New Testament: Simeon’s Prophesy

Luke recounts the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, writing: 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
The Christ-child is “glory for Israel” 

Luke 2:25-32

At the Presentation of Jesus, the glory of the Lord returns to Israel for the first time in over 500 years. This is the fulfillment of Israel’s longing for God’s holy presence. He doesn’t return as a cloud—he returns as God made flesh. 

God’s Glory in the Eucharist 

God is present with us in the Eucharist. We don’t have to long for him to return as a cloud—he dwells with us—body blood, soul, and divinity. We don’t have to wait for the High Priest to go into the temple to worship him on our behalf…we have full access to him. 

When we receive Jesus, we become like the Temple. You become a Holy of Holies every time you receive Holy Communion.

The Feast of the Presentation reminds us that the glory of the Lord returns to the temple of our Churches at every Mass. He returns to us in his tabernacles, in the Adoration chapels, and every time we receive him in Holy Communion. Let’s approach the Eucharist with the same yearning and reverence that Simeon experienced as he waited to cradle the holy Christ-child in his arms.

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