Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog day

Today is Groundhog day. If you remember the movie,  you know that if the days dawns bright enough for the titular rodent to see his shadow when he sticks his nose out of his hole, then there will be six more weeks of winter weather. Groundhog day has been running for 126 years ... but the weather lore on which the festival is based is far more ancient. According to the old rhyme, which dates back to middle ages:

If Candlemas dawns clear and bright
then winter lasts another flight;
but if it dawns with cloud and grey
then winter time will go away.  

I mention this because today is the Feast of Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, but more commonly known nowadays as the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The Gospel for today from St Luke deals with Our Lord's presentation and Our Lady's purification. And hidden within the passage is a nugget of information, easily overlooked by modern eyes, where the Evangelist again stresses how contrary to expectations is this Messiah. His parents cannot afford the usual sacrifice of a lamb, but instead offer that which is offered only by the poorest of people, a pair of small birds. Yet of all the people who throng the vast temple complex, many of whom would have been far wealthier and grander, it is to this humble family that the Holy Spirit guides Simeon. And it is their child that he prophesies will be the Messiah. A powerful reminder to us never to be overly impressed by the splendid things that man creates. For more often than not God's grandeur is to be found in the humble things of this world.

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