Today is the Feast Day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Feast Day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on November 21st, holds significant theological and devotional importance in Christian tradition, particularly within the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and some Anglican and Lutheran churches. This feast commemorates the presentation of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Temple in Jerusalem, and is rooted in an early Christian narrative not found in the canonical gospels but detailed in the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James.
Theologically, this event underscores the sanctity and dedication of Mary from her early childhood, foreshadowing her role in the divine plan of salvation. It highlights her purity and willingness to serve God, qualities that later manifest in her acceptance of the role as the Mother of Jesus. The feast emphasizes the idea of Mary as a model of holiness and obedience to God's will, a theme prevalent in Marian theology.
Moreover, the Presentation of Mary is often seen as a prefiguration of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, drawing a parallel between mother and son in their dedication to God's service. It also reflects the broader Christian belief in the sanctification of human life and the call to holiness from the earliest stages of existence.
In a broader spiritual context, this feast invites believers to reflect on their own dedication to God and the importance of nurturing a life of faith from a young age. It serves as a reminder of the virtues of purity, obedience, and wholehearted devotion to God's will, as exemplified in the life of Mary.
From a Sermon by Saint Augustine
By faith she believed; by faith, conceived
Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Savior was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her – did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father’s will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.
Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power, and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God’s word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God’s truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary’s mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.
The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent – the most eminent – member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine – our head is God.
Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfils the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.
Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? “Of Mother Church,” I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ.
As we venerate the glorious memory of the most holy Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession, that we, too, may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.