Feast of the Presentation of Mary Calls us to Present Ourselves, Our Children and the World to the Lord
On this Feast of the Presentation of Mary, let us make the choice to surrender ourselves to the same Lord who Joachim and Ann honored on that day they presented their dear daughter in the temple
We can bring this Feast to life in our age by participating in God's plan for the whole human race. The Feast of the Presentation of Mary Challenges us to Present Ourselves, Our Children and the Whole World to the Lord.
Presentation of Mary in the Temple
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The Feast of the Presentation of Mary is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. It recalls the day in the life of the Jewish girl named Mary (Maryam) when her parents, Joachim and Anne, presented her to the Lord in the temple and dedicated her life to Him.
Mary had already been chosen by God, preserved by a singular grace as a chosen vessel through whom the Incarnate Word would be given for the salvation of the whole world. However, the offering by her parents is a response to the invitation to join their own free choice to God' invitation and thus participate in salvation history.
This exercise of freedom lies at the heart of discipleship and is the inner core of every vocation. We are invited to cooperate with grace by exercising our capacity to choose God.
In the Office of Readings for the Feast, we are given an excerpt from a sermon by St. Augustine proclaimed on this Feast and entitled "She who believed by faith, conceived by faith" for reflection. Here are a few excerpts:
"Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and my sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words."
"Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Savior was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her - did she not do the will of the Father?
"Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father's will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ's disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master."
Today's Feast emphasizes our response to God's gifts. It also invites us to reflect on how we are doing in our call to do the Will of the Father.
We are invited to remember the response of Mary's mother and father in their decision to present her in the temple for dedication to the Lord. All Christian parents are called to imitate their response when they present their own children for Baptism.
As a Deacon of the Church I often prepare couples for the Sacrament and serve as an ordinary minister of the Sacrament. I am regularly reminded of the deeper meaning of the Feast of the Presentation.
On this Feast of the Presentation of Mary we should also reflect on the mystery of her continuing response to the Lord's invitations of grace to her. Though preserved free from the fractured freedom which is one of the consequences of original sin, Mary was still called to continually say Yes to God's invitation.
In her continual "Fiat" she shows us the way we are all called to respond to the invitations of grace in our own lives. No matter what our state in life or vocation, we are all called to respond to the universal call to grow in holiness. Mary's pattern of responses helps us understand the deeper meaning of all of this.
Mary was the first evangelizer and the first disciple of her own Son Jesus. She gave the first Gospel testimony to her cousin, Elizabeth, without words, as the Redeemer in her womb drew the child in her womb, John the Baptizer to Himself. Jesus did this from the Throne he had already established in Mary's womb, a living Tabernacle. Jesus, Love Incarnate, drew John from the first home of the whole human race, a mother's womb, into eternal communion.
At the beginning of that missionary encounter, Elizabeth greeted Mary with profound humility, saying "who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Then the son in her own womb became the first convert "in utero" as he leapt in praise of the Maker of the Universe, who had taken up residence in Mary's womb.
John the Baptizer, the last Prophet of Old Testament and first of the New, was prepared in a womb - and drawn by this amazing grace - without a word being spoken, through Mary's witness of surrendered love. This event, traditionally called "The Visitation" and recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke (Luke l: 39-45), is also meant to be reproduced in our lives as we carry Jesus forward in time. It can - through the witness of our surrendered lives of love.
In the Biblical account, this encounter immediately follows the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 16:38) and is a fruit of her humble, obedient response, her "Fiat" to the word of God which she was most certainly attuned to hearing. That response was not a onetime reaction. It was the fruit borne from a life of surrendered love. It stretched forward to characterize and inform her entire life.
Mary was at the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee, when the first of the Lord's "signs" occurred - in a response to and as a ...
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