|Presentation of the Virgin Mary
Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22
Today is the feast of the Presentation of Mary. The feast is based on an apocryphal story that Mary was presented and educated near the temple in Jerusalem. You may be like me: careful not to base my faith or to nourish my spirit on apocryphal stories. To you and to me I make two suggestions for today's praying. Set aside the particulars of the story to find what the story may express, and--whatever your history with devotion to Mary--let her be today an older sister who experienced the same walk of faith that we walk today.
My praying over the past few years has crystallized around a central image for that faith-walk with God. I find God saying in so many ways "I give myself to you." If I read the Old Testament, I hear God saying to Israel "I give myself to you." Jesus leaves Peter's house at the end of the sabbath to touch every sick person in the line that grows ever longer. He is saying to each of those sick people "I give myself to you." Every Eucharist has him saying to us what he said to his disciples as he entered into the mystery of his suffering. Every Eucharist repeats the gesture that he took as the reenacting sign of his passion: he gives himself to us as food and drink.
We are called and invited to receive every time we come to that Eucharist. We receive Jesus in the Eucharist as the sign that we are receiving God as gift all day long, in every experience. Mary is the great exemplar of that kind of receiving--at the great moment of receiving the angel's word and then throughout her existence with Jesus. Whether rearing a son, getting help for an embarrassed wedding couple, hearing him say surprising things, or standing under a cross which she could not understand, Mary let Jesus give himself to her.
As we move into Advent, we may well want to turn to Mary. What
that apocryphal story represents is Mary's readiness to receive a God eager
to give. During this Advent, might we let Mary be an older sister
who models for us what is most important in life? What a delight
it would be if her walk of faith would teach us to receive God's own self
as a gift!
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