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Candlemas: Sacrifice and Gift

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord"), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."

There’s a lot going on today: One feast, two stories (more on this in a bit), three names - a feast of meanings. In particular, there is a lot of sacrificing going on in today’s Gospel. Now, we think we know what sacrifices are: we say that parents make sacrifices to buy good things for their children, or to send them to certain schools. Lovers make “sacrifices,” we say, of their ambitions for the sake of common dreams. Soldiers offer their lives for the sake of country and cause, and these too are termed “sacrifices” today.

The Candlemas story is also about sacrifices. It puts us in the m…

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