Feast of the Presentation of Mary Calls us to Present Ourselves, Our Children and the World to the Lord
fruit of - her intercession. It was there she gave that sage advice to all those in attendance at that wedding and to all who throughout human history seek to follow her Son, "Do whatever He tells you". She invites each one of us to that kind of response through the testimony of her surrendered life of love for God.
There are very few records of Mary's explicit words in the texts of the New Testament of the Bible. However, there is no lack of her presence at the most significant events in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and therefore in the great events of salvation history.
She always encountered God - in profound ways - from the beginning to the end of her life. In every encounter, she surrendered to Love and was changed.
Mary was there at the Incarnation, Birth, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of the One whom Christians proclaim is God Incarnate, Jesus Christ. She was there throughout what are often called the "hidden years" in His life at Nazareth where ordinary work was ennobled and childrearing forever changed because of His participation.
His disciples spent three years with Him, during His "public ministry", but Mary spent thirty three years.
In the earthly ministry of the Redeemer, every word he uttered - at every age and stage - and every act he undertook - was redemptive, revealing the very life of God and the mystery of heaven touching earth. Because of that, every moment of His presence among us reveals the deeper purpose of our own lives- when they are lived entirely for Him.
Mary was there in all those pregnant moments of His thirty three year earthly mission of love. His redemptive presence forever changed the history of the world and can do so in our own personal histories if we learn how to surrender to His invitation to love and choose to live as she did.
The mission of the Redeemer continues for all who have the eyes to see His presence still walking and working among us; and the ears to hear His loving words still being spoken amidst the cacophony of our daily lives. Mary did.
Every waking moment can be filled with grace for each one of us, if we learn to discover their deeper meaning and make them our own. If we learn to live our entire life as, an invitation to love, an encounter with the God of love, as Mary did, we will find our lives transformed by the Son whom she bore for the whole world.
She was there on the great day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, and witnessed the extraordinary clothing with the Holy Spirit that transformed and empowered the early disciples. That same Holy Spirit had inspired her own unique missionary vocation.
Mary understood this work of the Holy Spirit unlike anyone in history. She had been clothed in that wonderful gift when she was first visited by the angel and "overshadowed." It empowered her to live her whole life in complete surrender to God's will and to thereby prefigure the mission of the entire Christian community throughout history.
Mary understood all of this because she was a woman in love -with God. Mary was a woman of prayer, an ongoing conversation and intimate communion with God. We are invited into her prayer because we are invited into that same relationship with God. Understanding and living the Prayer of Mary is about living a life of surrendered love. She is the first disciple who shows is the way to follow her Son and Lord.
Christian living is about being- more than about doing. It is about response- more than initiation. It is about encountering God relationally, personally and intimately. It is about a receiving, giving, receiving, giving, and becoming a person for the Lord - and in Him for others.
Christian living is about offering the "Fiat" of a surrendered life. Mary's "Fiat" ("let it be done"), freely given in response to the visitation from the messenger of heaven, the angel, provides a pattern of prayer and a way to live for every follower of her Son.
Her Yes, her "Fiat", her humble surrender to God's vocational invitation, bore the fruit of her "Magnificat" which bore the fruit of the Word made flesh, spoken and birthed through her. This is a kind of trajectory of love. It provides a prototype of the vocation of every human person who says "Yes" to God and learns to bear the fruit of surrendered love.
Mary's Yes reveals the meaning of life for all men and women who are children of the one Creator. We were made to give ourselves away to the Lord and, in and through Him, to others.
God is not an "add on" to our life. Rather, He is its source and its summit. Authentic and fruitful spirituality is "inside out" rather than "outside in." There is a way, a pattern that all men and women are invited into - not just once, but daily. This is the way of surrendered love.
Mary's surrender reveals the path to authentic peace.It is the portal of the mystery of meaning. It is what Christian Scripture calls the "more excellent way" (1 Cor. 12), the way of love. Mary understood and walked this way with extraordinary humility.
Is it any wonder that the early Christians painted her image in the catacombs during their moments of fear, persecution and doubt? They found great inspiration from this little woman of great faith. In her "yes" they came to understand that ordinary people can change human history. They were inspired to add their own "yes", their own "fiat" to hers.
Is it any wonder that the writings of the early Fathers of the Christian Church are also replete with reflections on this woman who said so little verbally in the biblical text? That is because it is not about an abundance of our words but rather our receptivity to the Word.
Justin Martyr and many other early Christian apologists found in her "fiat", her obedient "yes" to the angel, the undoing of the "no-I will not serve" uttered in rebellion by the first woman Eve. They called Mary "The Second Eve", the mother of a new creation, because she said "Yes" and in her womb carried the One whom the biblical authors would call the "New Adam."
Jesus Christ was born from her as the first born of a new race of men and women who find a new birth through His life, death and Resurrection. That is realized afresh every time we say "Yes" to Him in word and deed.
That same Redeemer comes to reside within, and live through, all of those who respond to the invitation of Love like Mary did. All who are prepared and who, in response, surrender to His grace.
Mary's choice, her response to the invitation of a God who always respects human freedom, is a singularly extraordinary event in all of human history. However, it is meant to be much more. It is meant to be an invitation to each one of us to explore our own personal histories and to write them anew in Him by joining our own "yes" to hers.
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 when they presented their dear daughter in the temple. Their daughter, Mary, became the Second Eve. The New Creation was born through her because iot began in Jesus Christ. Her Yes is to be repeated in each of our lives.
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.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Joachim and Ann, Mary, mother of God, Feast of the presentation, dsicipleship, holiness, universal call to holiness, Baptism, mission, parents, mother, father, domestic Church, Deacon Keith Fournier
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