We celebrate today the memorial of the Presentation of Mary. Ancient tradition — largely through non-biblical sources and oral tradition — tells us that Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, prayed for a child as they were childless. They promised to dedicate the child given to them to God. Their prayers were answered with Mary’s birth, and after Anna had weaned Mary at about three years of age, they brought her to the Temple in Jerusalem where they dedicated her to God. Mary remained in the temple until she was betrothed to Joseph.
The beauty and meaning of this feast lay in Mary’s complete and total dedication to God from her infancy. Mary went from the Holy of Holies in the Temple to becoming the Holy of Holies, i.e., the tabernacle of the Lord in conceiving and bearing Jesus in her womb. It was Mary’s complete dedication to God that we celebrate today.
St. Augustine would later write that Mary found greater joy and dignity being dedicated to God as a disciple of her Son than she did in being the mother of Jesus. Yes, even today’s Gospel reading at Mass for this memorial speaks of this when the people approach Jesus and tell him his mother and brothers were there asking to speak to him and he tells them that those who follow him and listen to his words are “mother and brother and sister” to him.
Today’s memorial is one of three memorials of Mary that correspond to three feast days of the Lord Jesus. On September 8 we celebrate the birth of Mary; on September 12 we celebrate the Holy Name of Mary; and today we celebrate the Presentation of Mary. Likewise, we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25; the Holy Name of Jesus (which Pope John Paul II put back into the Roman calendar) on January 3; and the Presentation of Jesus on February 3.
Let each of us remember our personal presentation in the temple when our parents brought us to the parish church and we were claimed by God and received the sacrament of baptism. Let us renew our dedication to the Lord by a renewal of our baptismal promises, and let us, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, become more faithful in following our Lord Jesus Christ.