The Purification, The Presentation, Candlemass (and NOW is the time to take down your tree)… Falling 40 days after Christmas, this triple feast has been celebrated at least since the Fourth Century.
Theme of the day is the Fruit of the Fourth Joyful Mystery, The Presentation: Obedience, Love of the Law. To love the law is to love God. God is the law. God is love.
Mary had no need of ritual purification, even under the customs of the time. Her perpetual virginity means, among other things, that she did not have an issue of blood (the normal symbol of uncleanliness), nor even a labor pain, thanks to her being preserved from Original Sin from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. Indeed, her act of giving birth was entirely miraculous, right down to her internal physiology, which remained that of a virgin, perfectly intact, before, during, and after the birth of Jesus. Yet she went with Joseph to Jerusalem for the ritual, OUT OF OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW. In other words, your Mother wanted to be a good example for you.
Our Lord had no need to be Presented in the Temple. This was the custom for firstborn males to be brought to the Temple as an offering to God, mirroring how the lamb and doves are offered for the purification. Then the parents would offer a “ransom” as part of the ritual, and the child would be “returned” to them. But Jesus already WAS God, so none of this was necessary. Just like He had no need to be Baptized in the Jordan. He did these things or allowed them to be carried out, OUT OF OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW, AS A GOOD EXAMPLE. Think about the paradox of God Himself practicing obedience, humility, submission, for our sake. He loves us that much.
The candles symbolize Jesus as “Light of the World.” He is “Light from Light.” Have you ever thought about that? He was the Light that existed before light, and His Light is meant to shine through us… we are to be “His Light.” Be sure not to hide it under a bushel basket.
OBEDIENCE. HUMILITY. SUBMISSION. You want to know where the path to true freedom starts? Right here. Be a good example for others, as He was for us.