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A Lesson from the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple

Matthew Harrison

Friday, February 2, 2007

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple. Salt + Light will be carrying the Mass from St. Peter’s in Rome on this feast day – if you didn’t catch it live late this morning, you can see it Friday on Salt + Light at 8pm or Midnight E-T in English, or in French, on Saturday at 12:30pm (second language programming is available for these broadcasts; meaning there is simultaneous French translation on the English broadcast and vice versa).
This feast highlights Christ as the light for all; as Simeon in the Temple proclaims “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Lk 2:32). This compelling biblical event also reminds me of the fourth Joyful mystery of the rosary. When I pray the rosary I have a tradition to consider the fruits of the mystery. Traditionally the fruit of the fourth Joyful mystery, the Presentation of our Lord, is obedience. This makes sense as Mary and Joseph were obedient in following the law and presenting Jesus in the temple (Lk 2:22-40).
In the presentation we have two aspects of the law of Moses being fulfilled. One is the actual presentation of the first born male to God. The second is the purification of the mother. It is the latter that I have only recently considered. Is not our Blessed Lady, the Holy Virgin of virgins, most pure and immaculate? As we recite in the Creed every Sunday, Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. And we as Catholics hold that Our Lady is perpetually a virgin – before, during, and after the birth of Jesus. Mary did not need to be purified! But in great obedience and humility to the law, Our Lady presents herself in the Temple for her own purification, as she presents Jesus – God -- to God.
As always, Our Lady gives us a beautiful lesson that can help us grow closer to her Son. Her actions may cause us to ask ourselves: Do I obediently accept God’s will for me in day to day life or do I drag my feet in carrying things out? Do I complain when things don’t seem to go my way, or do I humbly accept it as part of God’s plan for me, a plan of love, which – as difficult as it may seem -- will ultimately be for my benefit? Or we may ask: how do I present myself to my God when I pray or attend Mass? Is my heart pure, or do I need to go to a priest to confess my sins? Am I distracted or attentive? Is it an act of love or one of habit?
So today on this feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, let us consider how we welcome Christ into our lives. Let us follow the example of Our Lady: welcoming Jesus with an obedient, humble, and pure heart. Let us follow the example of Simeon: greeting the baby Jesus with great joy. Let us always allow the light of Christ to shine through us so that we too can bring His light to all other nations!

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