Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “This feast commemorates the dedication of the church of St. Mary, built in Jerusalem near the site of the Temple. Additionally, with Christians of the East, the Latin Church also remembers on this day the tradition according to which Mary as a small child, was presented to the Lord by her parents in the Temple” (The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume IV, p. 1572).
In a sense, we celebrate a particular and essential beginning to each of our salvations as brought about by Mary’s parents, Ann and Joachim’s united action. As a married and faith-filled couple, Ann and Joachim chose to offer their precious daughter to the Lord. In faith, they were returning to God, the unexpected source of joy they had received from God back to Him.
There’s a beautiful parallel between Ann and Joachim’s offering of Mary to God in His service and the widow’s offering in today’s gospel. Jesus points out that the widow gave all that she had, in contrast to the wealthy, who only gave from their surplus. Likewise, when Mary’s parents brought her to the Temple, they offered their only child to God, knowing they would have no other children.
Hearing these stories of total self-giving makes most people wonder, how did they do it? How do they have the faith to offer everything to God…not knowing what will happen next?
We hear in scripture that God rewards the generous giver, even that God’s generosity will never be outdone. And yet, at times, we wonder and sometimes worry if we can have that much trust in God.
Without the grace of God, that’s where we remain, wondering and worrying. Both the poor widow and the parents of Mary’s lives were touched and changed by the grace of God, and they responded as examples for us in their piety and generosity to God.
I believe there is a reminder for all parents and extended family in today’s feast to present the children in our families to God both in prayer and, most importantly, in the sacrament of Baptism. For it’s in Baptism that we publicly, within the Body of Christ, the church, offer our children to God, and through the Holy Spirit, they become sons and daughters of God.
We offer them totally to God, and in return, through the Holy Spirit, they enter into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There’s no greater gift that we could give to God and no greater gift that our children could receive. In addition, they will begin a life that, like us in which, God’s grace will prompt them to offer in big and small ways their lives in the service of God.
My brothers and sisters, let us give thanks for the examples of Joachim and Ann and the poor widow in their full and fruitful generosity toward God. May we grow through cooperating with God’s grace in how we bring our children to God, through Baptism, and in the sharing of our talents, treasure, and service, beginning with our families and spreading outward, especially to those most in need.
May God bless you and your families on this holy day, and may we be inspired to be more generous in serving God!
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About Father David Marcham
Reverend David S. Marcham is the Vice Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton, and Director of the Father Peyton Guild, whose members pray for Father Peyton’s beatification and spread his message of the importance of Family Prayer. Prior to becoming a seminarian, Father David was a physical therapist and clinical instructor, serving hospital inpatients and outpatients throughout the greater Boston area for eleven years. In 1998 he heard the call to priesthood and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005. Father David grew up in Quincy, MA, and has fond memories of playing soccer, tennis and running track. You’re never without a friend when Father David is around, as he welcomes everyone into his circle with a smile on his face!