Friday, November 21, 2008

Feast of the Presentation

This is a rather tricky feast day, frankly. The "Presentation of Mary in the Temple" comes from the ancient work, The Proto-Evangelium of James, a devout collection of stories that attempts to fill in the blanks left by the Gospel, giving us the human interest stories Matthew, Mark, Luke and John failed to provide. Like, who were Mary's parents? What's the story of her birth and childhood? What did Jesus do as a child? Things like that.
Unfortunately for the Feast of the Presentation, the sweet story of Mary's childhood in the Temple doesn't square with history. Little girls were not raised in a Temple boarding school, nor did the priests there act as matchmakers for them.
But that's not really the point of the feast, anyway.
Today's feast honors Mary as someone whose heart was completely consecrated to the service of God from the first moment of its awakening. And it foretells the presentation of the Lord, her Son, in that same Temple.
In a beautiful liturgical coincidence, today's weekday Gospel opens with the line, "Jesus entered the Temple." The Temple was not the place for buying and selling (Jesus "proceeded to drive out those who were selling"), but for the "complete gift of self" to God. And that's what today's feast of Mary is all about.

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