February 2nd is upon us. In our Catholic Faith we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the celebration of the custom and ritual of the Law in regard to Jesus. It was understood
that every first born male child belonged to God, and was to be presented for service to the Lord at the temple after his birth. It was also accepted that this child could be redeemed by the ritual offering of a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons in place of the child, so that the child could continue to serve the family. This became the common practice, the one which Mary and Joseph followed when coming to the temple that day. We, as Catholics, bless candles on this day, acknowledging that Jesus, the Christ, is indeed the light of the world. We call this Candlemas Day.
When Mary and Joseph brought the child, Jesus, to the temple, they encountered Simeon, an old man who had waited his whole life for the promised Messiah. He had been told by God that he would not see death until he had seen the Christ. His trust in God's promise, to his people and to himself personally, compelled him to wait and to pray, to patiently seek out and to joyfully be attentive to all that came into his life. And when that moment of encounter came, when he recognized the blessing of the moment, he embraced this child, he praised God, he affirmed the parents, and he was content. "Nunc dimittis" - "Now Lord, you may dismiss your servant" ... were the words that came from his lips. They expressed the peace in his heart. They spoke of his faith and gave reason as to why he waited. We should take Simeon as our model, surrender our fear to God, and trust the word and promise of our wonderful God.
In our local traditions on February 2nd, many of us in this part of the world wait to see whether the furry little critter from Punxsutawney named Phil, sees his shadow. This groundhog has been predicting the length of Winter for many years now. If he sees his shadow (which he usually does - I say because of all of the tv cameras) we have six more weeks of Winter ahead. If he does not, Winter will be shorter. Today (and it is a sunny day!) he did not see his shadow. May Phil's prediction be true!
We locally wait for this February 2nd Groundhog's Day ... and no matter the outcome, we definitely wait for Spring. Just as Lent at this time of the year has us waiting for Easter, so too does Winter lead us to Spring.