Malachi 3: 1-5 (page 802 in our pew Bibles) People desire God but are they ready to accept his judgement?
Hebrews 2: 14-end (page 1002 in our pew Bibles) Jesus needed to be fully human to identify with the suffering and death common to all human beings in order to save them
Luke 2: 22-40 (page 857 in our pew Bibles) What is being described here is both the presentation of Jesus and the "purification" of Mary. Simeon and Anna represent the patient Spirit-led people of Israel awaiting their Messiah.
Candlemas is the great turning point in our liturgical year. Up until now we have called the Sundays “of Epiphany” but after this Sunday we count the Sundays as “before Lent”.
From here we glance back at the whole Christmas and Epiphany season and now turn to face the cross, so Candlemas is a bitter sweet occasion.
Simeon and Anna are old and represent the faithful people of Israel who have been waiting their entire lives for the appearance of their Messiah and finally in that God given moment of insight and perception Jesus is recognised for who he really is.
It is the Holy Spirit that leads Simeon to recognise this child for who he is, and what he shall become.
But this recognition isn’t just a moment of unbridled joy and the revelation of light appearing in the darkness as recorded in Simeon’s words (that we now know as the Nunc Dimitis) , it is filled with portents of a darker nature.
Jesus will be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel, and he will invite great opposition, and a sword will pierce Mary’s soul also in a premonition of the cross.
Great thanks for the gift of the light of the world tinged with sadness at the rejection and death on the cross where his life will lead.
This general mood of a double edged sword is matched by Malachi which is a Hebrew word meaning “My Messenger” when he writes predicting the coming of Jesus to the Temple,
The Lord you seek will suddenly come to his Temple, but who will be able to bear it? He will be a refiner, a purifier, and bring judgement on those who flout the Spirit of God.
He will bring Judgement against the "sorcerers, adulterers, the liars, and oppressors of the weak and defenceless." of which there seem to have been many in Malachi's day
The representatives of those worthy of sanctions will eventually, in Jesus's day, conspire to have him crucified and imagine that they had won the day, but their moment of victory would be fleeting.
When those conspiring against him do finally get their man and have him killed it is important to realise that Jesus’ suffering and death were real. He suffered terribly and he really died. Because he was human just like you and me.
There is nothing we can go through where God in Christ has not been there, walked the walk and experienced. He can identify with every one of us because he shared our fate and that was important. As Hebrews says,
“Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”
He didn’t come to help angels, he came to help us human beings and set us free from the fear of death.
For lest we need reminding the mortality rate for human beings is 100%.
We all die, but as many as can believe it we will also all be raised.