Feast Day: November 21
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Feast Day: November 21
When she was only three years old, her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, took Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem.
There she would be educated in the service and the law of God so that she would be protected against the sins of the world.
Mary’s whole life was to belong to God as He had chosen her to be the Mother of his Son, Jesus. And St. Joachim and St. Anne were pleased to offer their saintly little girl to God. They knew that God had sent her to them.
In the Temple, the high priest received the child Mary, where she was placed among the girls who were dedicated to prayer and Temple service. The high priest kissed and blessed the holy child. He realized that the Lord had great plans for her.
Mary was happy to begin serving God in the Temple. She did not weep or turn back to her parents but came so happily to the altar that everyone in the Temple loved her at once.
St. Joachim and St. Anne went back home. They praised God for their blessed daughter. And Mary remained in the Temple, where she grew in holiness.
She spent her days reading the Bible, praying and serving the Temple priests. She made beautiful linens and wonderful vestments (robes that the priests wear). All the other girls loved Mary because she was so kind.
Mary tried to do each of her duties well, to please God. She grew in grace and gave great glory to the Lord.
Note to Parents: “Parents, God does not simply want you to offer your children to Him in the temple, but requires you to take care to keep them pure and holy, as living temples which have been consecrated in Baptism.”
Tuesday, November 21
Liturgical Color: White
Today is the Memorial of the
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin
Mary. This feast day was celebrated
as early as 1166. In 1585, Pope
Sixtus V extended the Feast of the
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin to
the whole Church.
Ordinary Time: November 21st
Memorial of the Presentation of Mary
Old Calendar: The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of the Presentation of Mary. The three feasts of the birthday of Our Lady, the holy Name of Mary and her Presentation in the Temple correspond in the Marian cycle with the first three feasts of the cycle of feasts of our Lord: namely, Christmas, the Holy Name of Jesus, and His Presentation in the Temple (February 2).
Presentation of Mary
“Sacred Scripture contains no text concerning the event commemorated in today’s liturgy. For something of a historical background one may consult the apocryphal works, particularly the Protoevangel of St. James (ch. 4:1ff). After an angel had revealed her pregnancy, Anna is said to have vowed her future child Mary to the Lord. Soon after birth the infant was brought to the sacred precincts at which only the best of Israel’s daughters were admitted. At the age of three she was transferred to the temple proper (7:2). According to legend, here she was reared like a dove and received her nourishment from the hand of an angel (8:1).
“In the East, where the feast, celebrated since the eighth century, is kept as a public holiday, it bears the name, ‘The Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple’. It was introduced at Rome by a Cypriotic legate to the papal court of Avignon in 1371. In 1472, Sixtus IV extended its observance to the whole Church. Abolished by Pius V, it was reintroduced some years later (1585).”
Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Things to Do:
- Meditate on the mystery of Mary’s temporary dwelling in the sanctuary of the Old Covenant as a preparation for the approaching season of Advent.
- Locate the order of contemplative nuns closest to you and visit their monastery (you may want to request their prayers and you might consider supporting them financially), they are the privileged souls who, by the grace of their vocation, are even here below dwellers in the house of the Lord.
- Spend 30 minutes reading the Bible.
- Learn more about Mary in the Byzantine Liturgy and say one of the beautiful prayers of the Eastern liturgy in honor of Mary.
Meditation: Luke 19:1-10
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Memorial)
Zacchaeus . . . was seeking to see who Jesus was. (Luke 19:2, 3)
There’s a lot of seeking and looking going on in this story. First, Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree because he was “seeking to see who Jesus was” (Luke 19:3). Then Jesus looks up at Zacchaeus and invites himself to the man’s house. Then, having heard Zacchaeus declare his intention to change his life, Jesus declares that he has come “to seek and to save what was lost” (19:10).
Both Jesus and Zacchaeus were seeking each other out, but with different intentions. Zacchaeus wasn’t trying to make contact with Jesus. He just wanted to see him, but he was too short. There are plenty of other people in Luke’s Gospel who either cry out to Jesus or interrupt his dinner or reach out and grab his robe (Luke 17:11-19; 7:36-38; 8:43-44). Zacchaeus could have taken any of these approaches. Instead, he chose a hiding place that would give him a good, but safe, view. We don’t know if he was just curious, if he felt too sinful to meet Jesus, or if he was some kind of celebrity watcher trying to get a glimpse of this famous rabbi.
But where Zacchaeus was “seeking to see,” Jesus had come “to seek and to save” (Luke 19:3, 10). Zacchaeus wanted to stay at a safe distance, but Jesus wanted to be close to him. Zacchaeus wanted to disappear into the crowd, but Jesus wanted to single him out and spend time with him.
And look what happened! Simply by standing in Jesus’ presence, Zacchaeus was moved from wanting to see him to wanting to follow him. He was so changed that he “received him with joy” (Luke 19:6).
Zacchaeus shows us what happens when we open the door to Jesus just a little bit. He invites himself in and softens our hearts. He soothes our fears. He moves us to confess our sins and feel the freedom of his love. He doesn’t call us a “sinner” but a spiritual “descendant of Abraham” (Luke 19:7, 9).
Jesus has the power to change our lives. He wants to change our lives. He is eager to change our lives. Even the smallest glimpse from us is enough for him to come and touch our hearts. Isn’t this a comforting message?
“Here I am, Lord!”
2 Maccabees 6:18-31
Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Father John Doyle, LC
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.
Petition: Lord, increase my faith.
1. Zacchaeus up a Tree: Yesterday and today’s Gospel passages speak eloquently of the need to encounter Christ at all costs. The blind man we read about yesterday would not stop shouting until he was brought to the Lord. Today a short and very unpopular man named Zacchaeus runs back and forth among the crowd until finally, in his determination to encounter Christ, he breaks all protocol and scrambles up a tree. Jesus wastes no time in entering decisively this tax collector’s life and transforming it. This resembles our own encounter with Christ. At times different obstacles stand in our way and prevent us from seeing Our Lord and his action in our lives. Above all we lack determination. How easy it is to craft excuses: “I am just too short,” “Maybe Jesus is too busy,” “I am just a sinner.” If we really want Our Lord to stay at our house, he will, but there may be trees that we need to climb first.
2. Welcoming Jesus: Few people ever welcomed Jesus with the joy and exuberance as did this little man. He came down from the tree, gave half of his wealth to the poor, and promised to restore any fraudulent transactions four times over. Zacchaeus has truly been like that merchant in search of fine pearls (see Matthew 13:45-46). He is willing to sell all he has to buy the pearl of great price: friendship and intimacy with the Lord. How many times has Jesus looked up at us and asked us to remain with him? How many times have we had the immense grace of receiving the King of kings into our hearts in the Blessed Eucharist? Do we offer merely a corner of our hearts for him or do we reserve the presidential suite? How pure do we maintain our souls for our Guest?
3. Of Sinners and Saints: What makes someone a saint and someone else a sinner? Certainly it is not the grumbling of the jealous crowd who are unwilling to climb up the tree to see Jesus yet are quick to criticize anyone who does. In fact, everyone is a sinner. St. Paul writes, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). Yet St. Paul, Zacchaeus, you and I all go from being sinners to saints when we encounter Christ and are faithful to his friendship. Salvation came to Zacchaeus’ house when Jesus entered it, and salvation comes to us through the graces received at baptism, renewed in the Sacrament of Penance, and nurtured in the Eucharist.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to be willing to do whatever it takes to grow in a deeper friendship with you. Don’t allow me to worry about the murmurings of the crowd, but only to listen to your voice and respond to it with generosity.
Resolution: I will make a point to go to confession at the next possible opportunity asking Jesus to forgive me my sins and to help me to turn from being a sinner into being a saint. I will make it a real encounter with Jesus.
November 21, 2017
According to tradition, at the age of three, Mary was brought by her parents Joachim and Anne to the Temple at Jerusalem to present and consecrate her to the service of the Lord. She remained there in prayer and service until she was betrothed to Joseph. Today we pray for the men and women in monasteries and hermitages who serve the Lord and the Church through prayer and quiet work.
Today we also reflect on the responsibilities of parents for their children. Joachim and Anne took special care of their unique daughter Mary, teaching her what love and service of God are. What Christian values do we teach our children? How do we
do it? Hopefully by word and example. At the rite of baptism parents are reminded of their obligation to teach and rear their children and that they are their first teachers, and hopefully their best teachers.
Mary and Joseph, the mother and the foster-father of Jesus, did the same for the child Jesus and helped him grow “in wisdom and age, and in divine and human favor.” (Lk 2:52) How have we done in the growth and development of our children?