Meditation: November 21: Presentation of the Virgin Mary

– Mary belongs totally to God

– To be part of a divine family

– Loyalty in what is big and in what is small

AN ANCIENT tradition says that the Virgin’s parents, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, took her to the temple in Jerusalem. She stayed there for some time in the company of other young women, to be instructed in the traditions and piety of Israel. We can read in the Old Testament that the mother of the prophet Samuel, also named Anna, had done the same some time before, when she had offered her son for the service of God in the tabernacle where his glory was manifested (cf. 1 Samuel 1, 21-28).

After this period, Marie continued to lead a normal life with Joachim and Anne. She remained in their care as she grew into a woman. She has matured as a member of her people, with nothing out of the ordinary in her behavior. As a good Jewess, she directed her whole life towards the Lord, of whom she did not yet know that she was going to become a mother. Today’s feast celebrates precisely this belonging of the Virgin Mary to God, her total dedication to the mystery of salvation throughout her life.

“As the holy child Mary offered herself to God in the Temple promptly and entirely, so on this day let us present ourselves to Mary without delay and without reserve” [1], writes Saint Alphonse Marie de Ligouri. By her own life, she shows us the way to her Son, so that our life too may have its center in him. “His hands, his eyes, his attitude are a living catechism and always point to the foundation, the center: Jesus” [2].

JESUS ​​speaks to the crowd. Suddenly, someone passes and says to him: “Your mother and your brothers are there, outside, trying to talk to you”. The Lord answers with a question to which he himself gives the answer: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? » […] Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, sister, mother” (Mt 12:46-50).

These words of Christ may surprise us. We may feel that the Lord is downplaying his relationship with his mother. However, looking more closely, we see that the Master emphasizes the fidelity with which she lives her vocation, which is the source of her intimate closeness to her Son. Saint Augustine comments, putting these words on the lips of Jesus himself: “My mother, whom you proclaim blessed, is so precisely because of her observance of the Word of God, […] because she was the faithful guardian of the very Word of God, who created her and in her was made flesh” [3].

These words of the Lord teach us that the disciples of Jesus can be part of his own family. Those of us who want to share life with Christ and do the will of God the Father are much more than mere collaborators in a project for the good of society. “To become a disciple of Jesus, says the Catechism, is to accept the invitation to belong to the family of God, to live in conformity with his way of life” [4]. Today we can ask Mary that, since she is already before God, she obtain for us the grace to be closer to her Son Jesus every day.

IN THE GOSPELS we see several moments when Mary responds faithfully to the divine will. The “yes” she uttered at the moment of the angel’s announcement was “the first step in a long list of obedience that will accompany her journey as a mother” [5]. Perhaps the greatest expression of this fidelity is found when she remains at the foot of the cross next to her Jesus, offering him the greatest consolation by her mere presence. The evangelists say nothing about her reaction, they only point out that on Golgotha ​​she remained: “she stood”. Our Lady did not conceive of an attitude of flight or estrangement. She had discovered that the greatest happiness—this time mixed with an abundance of pain—sometimes is simply “standing” with her son.

Mary’s life was also marked by other moments of daily fidelity which are not recounted in the Gospel. It is possible that her day-to-day life was that of most women of her time. And it was in these tasks common to those of her people that she also accomplished the will of God. She sanctified what is big or small, what each day brings with it, what at first glance had little value but has a lot for us. She knew how to put love into everything she did. “A love taken to the extreme, to the point of total self-forgetfulness, happy as she was to find herself in her place, where God wanted her, in the total accomplishment of the divine will. This is why the smallest of his gestures is never banal, but appears, on the contrary, to be full of meaning. [6].

This is how what Jesus would later say to his disciples was accomplished: “He who is trustworthy in the smallest thing is also trustworthy in the great” (Lk 16:10). As soon as Mary was presented in the Temple, her whole life revolved around God. And thanks to this fidelity in small things, lived under the action of the Holy Spirit, Mary knew how to be faithful also in big things.

[1]. Saint Alphonse Marie de Ligouri, The Glories of MarySpeech III.

[2]. Pope Francis, General audienceMarch 24, 2021.

[3]. Saint Augustin, In Ioannis Evangelium 10, 3.

[4].Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2233.

[5]. Pope Francis, General audienceMay 10, 2017.

[6]. Saint Josemaría, When Christ passesNo. 148.

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Meditation: November 21: Presentation of the Virgin Mary

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