This week we return to reflections that we can draw from the life of Mary, and in particular focus on the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple, which is also the fourth joyful mystery of the rosary. In accordance with the ancient Jewish law, and in a beginning fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophesy that the Lord would return to His Temple, Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the Temple 40 days after his birth and offered a sacrifice of two small birds for God’s mercy shown toward them.
Upon making the offering, they were met by Simeon and Anna, who had been awaiting the Messiah for many years. Simeon and Anna praised God and told others about the newborn king. Simeon also spoke to Mary about the destiny of Jesus for the rise and fall of nations, and of her own sorrow to come which would lead to the revelation of mysteries of the human heart.
The Gospel of Luke does not mention it, but it is more than ironic that the Holy Family was there in the capital right near Herod, who either was, or would soon be, plotting the death of Jesus. From this glorious and humble event, we can draw lessons about our relationship with Jesus and our ability to present Him to the world.
To begin with, the requirements of the faith should not be seen as a burden, but rather as the ability to share, with the Holy Family, the prayers and way of life that unite us as a people of God throughout time and space. Second, if even Mary listened to and learned from Simeon and Anna, representatives of humble and prayerful fidelity, so we should recognize our need to listen to others, especially those who are humble and prayerful, and learn from the living tradition of the faith.
Third, as with Simeon and Anna, we often have to wait a long time to see how it is that God is working in the world, and how our own efforts contribute to His kingdom. But with them, if we are always open to the presence of God, we will experience His light and be able to share it with others. And finally, we await the day in which Mary, Joseph and all of the saints present each of us to God our Father in the heavenly Temple. Then we will, with Mary, rejoice for all time, declaring, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47