The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
As we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple, our minds travel to the presentation of Jesus in that same Temple, which will follow in not so many years. The fact that this mystery marks the life of both mother and son bears significance for us. The child Mary and the infant Jesus are taken to the Temple the privileged place of encounter with God. Their identity is revealed in their closeness to the Father, symbolized by the presentation. Mary and Jesus are borne to the Temple so that we may share in their closeness with God. As Blessed John Paul II notes, “The whole of the universe is in some way touched by the divine favor with which the Father looks upon Mary.”
According to tradition, Our Lady’s parents, Joachim and Anne, accompany their little girl to the Temple so that, there, they might both fulfill a vow they have made to God and also obtain an education for their daughter. On the part of Mary, it is an early occasion to demonstrate her total dedication to God’s service and her utter obedience to God’s will. The Byzantine Liturgy lauds Mary:
O Virgin Mother of God, you … are the pride of the martyrs and the cause of the renewal of the entire human race, for through you we have been reconciled with God. Wherefore we honor your entrance into the Temple of the Lord, … for we are saved through your intercession, O most honorable one!
The saints compare Mary, in her presentation in the Temple, to the dove of Noah’s ark that brought the captives of the great flood the promise of new life in an olive branch. Mary brings us the good news of the birth of salvation a birth that will come, not through the twig of a tree, but through the
wood of the cross. Commenting on Mary’s presentation, St. Gregory of Palamas (d. 1359) writes,
The all- pure Virgin made her departure from mankind when she entered the Holy of Holies; then she went back among men in order that, being pre- eminent in holiness, she might share the inalienable gift of hallowing with everyone. Nowhere was excluded, not even the world’s secret place, that innermost sanctuary.
Fr Peter Cameron OP
The Novena for the Church Year