This particular Gospel reading is sometimes difficult to hear, because I think it’s out of context enough that we could get the wrong idea about the relationship between Jesus and Mary. It almost seems as if Jesus doesn’t care about his mother, and his brothers – whoever they were – that’s a can of worms I don’t care to open this morning! I just know that if I treated my mother and my family like that, well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be too good.
But our gut – or rather our faith – tells us that Jesus and Mary had a relationship that transcended that kind of thing. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t care about Mary, it’s just that he knew he really didn’t have to worry about her. She could take care of things herself, and when she couldn’t, well he’d commission John to take care of her at the foot of the cross.
And that relationship in which Jesus instinctively knew that his mother was okay and he needed to attend more to the people he ministered to is the reason we celebrate Mary’s presentation today. As with Mary’s birth, we don’t really know anything official about Mary’s presentation in the temple. An unhistorical account tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in theTemplewhen she was three years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.
Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond. We celebrate Mary, full of grace from the moment of her conception and all throughout her life.
We pray the words of Mary in the Responsorial Psalm today: “The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.” Mary was always aware of the amazing grace that sustained her throughout her own very difficult life-long mission. We are graced like that too, and we celebrate that grace with Mary today.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God; that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.