The Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple Invites our Response
If we learn to live our entire life as 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
On this Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple by Joachim and Anne, we are invited to make the choice to surrender our lives to the Lord. Parents are reminded of their solemn responsibility to present their children for Baptism. We are all challenged to bring this Feast to life in our age and thereby continue to participate in God's unfolding plan for the whole human race.
Presentation of Mary by Joachim and Anne
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 our free choice to God' invitation. This exercise of freedom lies at the heart of discipleship, and is the inner core of every vocation, to cooperate with grace.
In the Office of Readings, we are given a sermon by St. Augustine given of 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. We remember the response of Mary's mother and father in their decision to present her in the temple for dedication to the Lord. All parents are called to imitate their response by presenting their children for Baptism.
We reflect on the mystery of Mary's own continuing response from her very earliest days to the Lord's invitations of grace. Yes, that is right, though preserved free from the fractured freedom which is the bad fruit of original sin; Mary was called to continually give her "Yes" to God's invitations of love. In that continual "Fiat" she shows us the way we are all called to respond to the invitations of grace in our own lives as we grow in holiness.
She 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 so from the Throne he had established in Mary's womb, a living Tabernacle. Jesus, Love Incarnate, drew John from the very 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 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 and it stretched forward to characterize and inform her entire life.
Mary was there at the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee, when the first of the Lord's "signs" occurred - in a response to and as a fruit of - her intercession. It was there she gave that sage and still relevant 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 still invites 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 ...
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