Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


 
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”


The Memorial of the Presentation of Mary provides us with another opportunity to thank God for our Blessed Mother; and Saint Luke’s gospel, an appropriate vignette. She too has “offered her whole livelihood” on the altar of Calvary.
I was not enthrall of Mel Gibson’s movie about Jesus but I appreciated his portrayal of Mary, and I was especially touched by the words addressed to her, “See, Mother, I make all things new!” It’s a reference, of course, to the Book of Revelation and it reminds us that only the faithful can see what happened on that dreadful day.
Luke has placed this story about the woman and her copper coins after his arrival and entry in Jerusalem, in anticipation of his Last Supper, arrest, trial and crucifixion. The Hour of Judgment is approaching and the wheat is being sifted out of the chaff.
But only Jesus can see what is happening. The powerful are making substantial donations to the temple to show off their great wealth, to impress their neighbors, as it was in the days of Noah:
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
So far as Jesus is concerned there is nothing spectacular about these ostentatious displays of wealth. They mean nothing and change nothing. Large amounts of money change hands but the transaction only maintains the status quo.
Meanwhile the poor like Mary, Joseph, Zachariah, Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna – the Hebrew word was anawim – live out their earthly existence in grinding poverty, relying not on the mercy of the powerful but on the providence of God. They know their paltry donations to the Church cannot build magnificent edifices but they give anyway, to express their hope and confidence and gratitude to the Lord.
Like the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in preparation for his burial, this poor woman will survive the Day of Judgment. She will be remembered and honored eternally, long after our glorious edifices – from the pyramids to the Trump Tower – have collapsed into ruin.
 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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