Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary
2 Maccabees 6:18-31
Today the church commemorates the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The feast, although having no historical basis, points to a fundamental truth about Mary, and that is that from the very beginning of her life, she was dedicated to the service of God.
Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of other Marian feasts, that of the Immaculate Conception, and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond. This earned her the position and title of Mother of God and the Church.
The feast itself had its origins in the Eastern church, dating back to the 6th century and somewhere between the 11th and 15th centuries in the Western Church. At the age of 3, St. Anne and St. Joachim took Mary to the temple where she was dedicated to the service of God. Apparently, it was a promise made by St. Anne and St. Joachim, who were elderly when Mary was conceived. One of the most important things we can deduct from this occurrence is that God came to dwell in Mary in a unique and special way. Mary’s response was to serve God and to put her faith in him.
Like most feast days commemorated by the church, there needs to be some relevance and connection of the event to our present-day lives.
One way of interpreting and making sense of the feast can be understood as the standard by which the church honours consecrated life. Mary’s presentation and dedication was in the beginning to become the role model for many women to the service of God and the church. Mary was in every sense their role model, and guide to perfection. Today the feast is for us a way to remember and honour the many sacrifices Mary made from an early age to prepare for her role in salvation history by saying yes to becoming the Mother of Jesus.
As we prepare for the season of Advent and commemorate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, we are reminded of the chain of events that lead to this and Mary’s role and decisions in the unfolding of salvation history. Mary exercised free will in accepting what was asked of her. Doing so, was an act of blind faith. Did she really know what she was getting herself into? She must have known there would be challenges, hardships, and difficulties ahead of her.
How does this relate to you and I today? We too, are consecrated and dedicated to the service of Christ through our baptism. The Rite says we are called to “Keep the light of Christ burning.” We too, are consecrated to service and to bring about the reign of God, to exercise free will in this and continually exercising blind faith as Mary did knowing that there will be challenges ahead of us.
In the same way Mary became a dwelling place, a temple for God’s spirit, so too are we through our baptism – called to say yes and live a life of service to bring about the reign of God.
Michael Schiano has been a member of St. Brigid’s parish since 1990. As a parish member, he has served on the Parish Pastoral Council, Liturgy Committee, and Bereavement Team and is a member of the Passionist Companions. He has been an educator in the Archdiocese and has held positions in middle management and executive leadership positions. He currently works in Aged Care in the roles of Pastoral Care Co-Ordinator at Brigidine House, Randwick; St. Anne’s Hunters Hill; and Chaplaincy, Pastoral Care Officer at Calvary Ryde.