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Counting forward from December 25 as Day One, we find that Day Forty is February 2. A Jewish woman is in semi-seclusion for 40 days after giving birth to a son, and accordingly it is on February 2 that we celebrate the coming of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus to the Temple at Jerusalem…
In other words, the day celebrates “an early episode in the life of Jesus.” That is, His presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem, “in order to officially induct him into Judaism.” And by the way, it’s also known as Candlemas. (As shown above right.)
I’ve covered this Feast Day in past posts, including 2015’s On The Presentation of Our Lord, 2016’s The Presentation of the Lord – 2016, 2017’s On the FIRST “Presentation of the Lord,” and last year’s “The LORD is a God of knowledge” – The Presentation, 2019.
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The 2015 post has lots of information on Mardi Gras, which happens this year on February 25. (The point being that the “Feast of the Presentation” leads directly on to Ash Wednesday, Lent and ultimately to Easter.) And the fact that way too many people see Mardi Gras as just another excuse to party, without seeing any connection to religion or spirituality.
The bad news – to some – is that Mardi Gras is followed immediately by Lent, a “solemn religious observance,” 40 days of atonement, self-denial, prayer, penance, repentance, and almsgiving. And incidentally, that’s not 40 days straight of “self-denial.” You get Sundays off to enjoy whatever it is you’ll be giving up for Lent.
As to the last, see OMG! Is it time for Lent again? That is, there are actually 46 days of Lent: 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. That’s because Sundays in Lent are essentially “days off,” when you can still enjoy whatever it is you’ve “given up.” (A bit of Bible wisdom that got overlooked by the writers and/or producers of 40 Days and 40 Nights. See below right.)
Which brings up another bit of Bible wisdom that I overlooked – or failed to mention before – based on my recent trip to Utah. (From December 27 to January 9.) That is, the fact that January 1st is the day celebrated by some Christians as the time “Our Lord first shed His blood for us.”
On January 1st, we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. Since we are more squeamish* than our ancestors, modern calendars often list it as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, but the other emphasis is the older. Every Jewish boy was circumcised (and formally named) on the eighth day of his life, and so, one week after Christmas, we celebrate the occasion when Our Lord first shed His blood for us.
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And finally, one note of interest: Generally the February 2d “Presentation” comes roughly halfway into the Season of Epiphany. Which this year ends with Ash Wednesday, February 26. Which leads – as noted – to both Lent and Easter:
As it is the first day of Lent, some Christians begin Ash Wednesday by marking a Lenten calendar, praying a Lenten daily devotional, and abstaining from a luxury that they will not partake of until Eastertide arrives.
Which also leads to what could be called the “Second Presentation of Jesus.” That is, Ash Wednesday leads to Good Friday, with Jesus about to be crucified – for us and our shortcomings – as shown below…
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The upper image is courtesy of the “Simeon” link in the Wikipedia article on the Presentation. That caption: “Simeon the Godreceiver [sic] by Alexei Egorov. 1830–40s.” The caption for that “upper image” is actually the one from Simeon and Anna Recognize the Lord in Jesus. That’s another interpretation of the event, by Rembrandt (van Rijn). (Far better known that Egorov.) You can see Rembrandt’s interpretation at “Wikigallery,” or at “Rembrandtonline.”
Re: “squeamish.” That is, “easily shocked, offended, or disgusted by unpleasant things.”
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