Today’s Gospel can be a confusing one, perhaps even a little difficult to hear. It’s very disconcerting to see Jesus as being callous to his mother and not receiving her when she came to visit. 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 had been filled with grace from the moment of her conception, and would never be without the benefit of that grace.
Theirs was a relationship in which Jesus instinctively knew that his mother was okay and he needed to attend more to the people he ministered. And it is for that 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 her parents, Anna and Joachim, offered Mary to God in the Temple when 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.