Tongue warmer: How many days ago was Christmas?
Good morning! That was a very interesting question. How many days ago was Christmas? It was exactly forty 40 days ago. In the church calendar, we name this day: Candlemas. Christmas is the Mass of Christ. Candlemas is naturally the Mass of Candles. Why? Today, if you go to church, there is a special ceremony with candles. (We have one candle here.) In northern Europe, young women and girls would even wear crowns of candles. Kind of difficult to balance I imagine.
Anyway, the origin of the feast is like this: According to the Bible, 40 days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem. Imagine this: Jesus being the true light brightened up the dark Temple. So to remember that Jesus is the true light, we celebrate Candlemas with lots of candles. Some of you may not know the story so please listen to Fr Roberto / Mr Mckenzie. You can follow the story on page _ of your hymnal. Please pay attention to the words in BOLD letters.
Listen to the Word of God. A Reading from the Gospel according to St Luke.
The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law.
At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's promised Messiah.
When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:
"Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation.”
The child's father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him.
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, "This child will be a sign from God which many people will speak against. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart."
The Gospel of the Lord.
All: Praise to You Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you. This story is the basis why we have the feast Candlemas today. Now, a little poem here. This poem is written by Eve Forti, and it is called The Offering. You are going to see that this poem is retelling the Candlemas story in a poetic way. Instead of telling a story, the poet tries to talk to one of the person in the story: Simeon, the old man who took Jesus in his arms. Please listen to it – and please take a special note to the underlined words.
Poem: The Offering by Eve Forti
Old Man, you've sown the years longing for the harvest, hoping for the green shoot to appear.
Fragrant with perfection, He is here: wanting to be purified, waiting to be crucified.
And His mother, offering her Lamb, gives Him to your open arms
so you can finally die in peace knowing that the Promised One is born.
In gratitude you will whisper that her heart will break.
I don’t think I need to explain each and every single word to you and you can still understand a lot about both the poem and the original Bible story. Now, I would like you to take some time to match the poem with the story. I think it is not difficult if you try to match the keywords together.
Let us take 20 seconds to do this. [PAUSE] Let’s check the answer now:
Paragraph 1 in the Bible story matches with Paragraph B of the poem. The keyword is purification. Purification comes from the word PURE, very clean. To make something pure is to purify. E.g. You cannot drink water from the river unless it is purified. That means purification would make the water safe to drink.
Paragraph 2 in the Bible story matches with paragraph A of the poem. The keyword is waiting – and in the poem, the poet uses the phrase “longing for”. To long for something means to wait for something. E.g. Almost all students long for summer holidays.
Paragraph 3 in the Bible story matches with paragraph C of the poem. The key phrase is “in his arms”. Compare these two sentences: (Bible) Simeon took the child in his arms. (Poem) Mary gives him to your open arms. Well, I think Mary gave Jesus to Simeon’s open arms so Simeon took him in his arms. To take something in your arms means to carry something with your arms. Naturally you have to open your arms first.
Paragraph 4 in the Bible story matches with paragraph D of the poem. The key phrase is “in peace”. In the Bible, Simeon said he could now go in peace and that means exactly dying in peace. The author in the Bible story uses the word “go” instead of “die.” Some people do not like to hear the words “to die’ or “death”. Can you think of one word that means “in peace”? Yes, peacefully. E.g. My grandfather died peacefully. He died in peace.
Finally, paragraph 5 in the Bible story matches with paragraph E of the poem. Besides the phrase about how a sword would break the heart of Mary – that is obvious. In paragraph 5 of the Bible story, Simeon said to Mary. In the poem, the poet said: you will whisper. WHISPER means to speak softly. E.g. In the library, you are not supposed to talk at all. If you really have to talk, please whisper; otherwise, the library will become noisy.
To end our prayer – let’s say a prayer. I will say the beginning and you have to join in at the end.
Let us pray: O Heavenly Father, today we celebrate Candlemas and we thank you for giving us Your Only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ who is the true light. We long for His love we long for a world full of life and joy. Please teach us to live in peace with each other, especially those we find difficult. Please teach us to open our arms to welcome everyone. We end now our prayer with the prayer that Your Son has taught us: Our Father…