If you’ve visited Jerusalem, you never forget your first glimpse of the Western Wall. (Even if you haven’t, you can virtually travel there via Google street view
.) The holy site is bustling with noise and activity, quite unlike the hushed reverence one might expect. Bowing fervently as they chant their prayers, pious Jews are dwarfed by the eight-ton stones stacked 32 metres high in front of them.
The Western Wall represents only a small remainder of the original perimeter wall of the Second Jewish Temple. The wall’s construction began in 37 BCE, so part of it existed when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to be presented at the temple. They must have been awestruck by the massive edifice. And like today’s visitors, they surely felt anonymous among the crowds. Yet, as we read in the Gospel of Luke, Simeon and Anna were waiting for their arrival.
The Holy Family’s visit to Jerusalem is reenacted in the liturgy for the Feast of the Presentation, also known as Candlemas. This feast, which takes place Saturday, is distinguished by the blessing of candles. These candles are then carried in procession to the altar, symbolizing how Jesus — the Light of the World — was brought to the Jewish Temple.
Pope Benedict will be leading this ritual during Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. He will be joined by many men and women religious, since the Feast of the Presentation coincides with the 17th World Day of Consecrated Life. You can watch this Mass live on S+L TV and steaming online
on Saturday at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT. It repeats at 9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT.