Homily for the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Mary, when Mary was presented in the Temple by her parents, Joachim and Anne. It is one of those extra-biblical events that the Church remembers each year to honor the life of the Blessed Mother.
The earliest evidence that we have for this particular event is found in one of the apocryphal gospels, which are those early writings of the Church Fathers that were not added to the Canon of Scripture yet give us a glimpse into the early life of the Church, the life of Jesus, or the life of Mary and Joseph. In fact, many of the traditions of our faith and feasts that we celebrate have their origin in these particular writings. The Protoevangelium of James gives us the details of Mary’s presentation in the Temple. I’d like to read that passage for you.
And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anne said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.
And her parents went down marveling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel.
This gives us a beautiful witness into the life of Mary and the way in which she was chosen by God from a very early age to accomplish such a remarkable task for the people of God and for the history of the world. It shows us how God had set His divine plan for the salvation of the world into motion well before Jesus’ birth. So today, on this feast of the Presentation of Mary, let’s continue to ask the Blessed Mother to intercede for us, that we may grow in our love for her and that we may come to a deeper awareness of how God is working in our hearts to bring about a deepening of faith and trust in His divine plan.
Image: Frescos in the Orthodox Church of the Presentation of Virgin Mary from XIII century. Public domain. Wikicommons.