“The Presentation of the Lord and Mary’s Offering of Us” (2/2/2020)
Fr. Ignatius John Schweitzer
In today’s Feast we recall Mary presenting Jesus to God the Father in the Temple. Mary offers Jesus to the Father. This is God’s plan for us too: that Mary would offer us to God. In our own offering of ourselves to the Lord, we see how much we fall short. Hence we need to entrust ourselves to Our Lady to offer us to the Lord.
St Louis de Montfort says, “Let us recall here, as a proof of the dependence we ought to have on our Blessed Lady, the example which the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost give of this dependence. The Father has not given, and does not give, His Son, except by Mary; He has no children but by her, and communicates no graces but through her. The Son has not been formed for the whole world, except by her.”
And on this Feast we could add, Jesus was not offered to the Father, except by Mary. So we have a model here for the offering of ourselves to God. It helps if it’s through the hands of Mary. We are so weak and frail in our efforts at offering ourselves to the Lord, so the Lord gives us Mary as our Mother to help us.
St Louis de Montfort continues, “My good Mother, I acknowledge that up to this time I have, by your intercession, received more grace from God than I deserve; and my sad experience teaches me that I carry this treasure in a very frail vessel, and that I am too weak and too miserable to keep it safely of myself. I beseech you, therefore, receive in trust all which I possess, and keep it for me by your fidelity and power. If you keep it for me, I shall lose nothing; if you hold me up, I shall not fall; if you protect me, I shall be sheltered from my enemies.”
And when we entrust ourselves to Our Blessed Mother in this way, to offer us to God, she often brings people into our lives who are filled with the Holy Spirit. In our Gospel, we see that Simeon enters the scene. The Gospel says of him, “This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” The Spirit also inspires Simeon as he speaks. He thanks God for sending Jesus, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for God’s people Israel.”
Yet the Spirit also anoints Simeon in his remaining words about the sword of sorrow that will pierce Mary’s heart. “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign of contradiction, and through your own soul too, a sword shall pierce—that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”
In our offering ourselves to the Lord, in striving to belong entirely to God, we often find this to be the case. Our offering also involves a sword of sorrow that pierces our heart. It’s not easy serving the Lord. Becoming an acceptable offering to the Lord sometimes brings with it trials. A sword often pierces. Yet this sword may be the very thing that separates us from what’s keeping us from God. This sword cuts away what may be keeping us from belonging to the Lord entirely. Even if it simply means our own pride and egotism being broken down and pierced by this sword, it can lead to a more complete offering of ourselves to the Lord.
And we can’t do this on our own. We need the Simeons in our lives, anointed by the Spirit, to speak that word of encouragement, that word of hope.
And moreover, we need Mary, our Blessed Mother, in our lives to offer us to the Lord as she did Jesus in the Temple. Mary knows what it is to have the sword of sorrow pierce her heart and she can help us as she forms us into the image of her Son.
Again, St Louis de Montfort says, “Mary has produced, together with the Holy Spirit, the greatest thing which has been or ever will be—the God-Man; and she will consequently produce the greatest saints that there will be in the end of time.”
So on this Feast of the Presentation, we present ourselves, we offer ourselves to God, through the hands of our Blessed Mother. Much of this offering to the Lord has to do with surrendering to God as His will becomes manifest in our lives. It’s not always according to our plan, but it’s according to His plan. And entrusting ourselves to God by entrusting ourselves into the hands of our Blessed Mother helps us make this surrender. It’s as simple as a child resting in the arms of his mother. We too can rest in the arms of Mary, our Blessed Mother. With a childlike trust, we entrust ourselves into the arms of our Blessed Mother, as she offers us in union with her Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
So we’ll close with a prayer of John Paul II on this, a prayer that we can join our own hearts to. “We entrust our life to you [Blessed Mother]. To you who welcomed the Word of God with absolute fidelity, and dedicated yourself to his plan of salvation and grace—yielding to the action of the Holy Spirit with total docility. To you who had from your Son the mission of receiving and caring for the disciple whom he loves. To you, each and every one of us repeats, ‘Totus tuus ego sum’ (I am all yours), that you may take our consecration and unite it to that of Jesus and yours, as an offering to God the Father for the life of the world.” Amen. (Calkins, 224)