Jesus Presented in the Temple by Mary.
Our Lord would not delay to offer Himself publicly to His Father. Forty days after His Birth, He inspired Mary to take Him to the Temple. Mary carried her Infant in her arms, about to over Him to the Father, and to buy Him back with two turtle-doves. Jesus willed to be purchased for these little creatures, which speak to us of His purity and simplicity. The joy, the bliss of the Most Blessed Virgin ended on that day. Hark to the words of the old man chosen of God: "This Child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce."
How can the Holy Trinity, how can God so good, so tender, thus discover such a mystery of sorrow to a poor young mother of only fifteen, still inebriated with joy at the birth of her Son? It is the first visit she has made since His birth, and she is told of the cruel death awaiting her beloved Child. O she understands all! From that day, Calvary is wherever Jesus is, at Nazareth, in Egypt—everywhere does she behold before her Jesus crucified. Ah! the soul that is not possessed of virtue, God allows to slumber on in a certain kind of security; but give Him a loving soul, and He is eager to crucify it for His own glory. Love lives on sorrow. Mary accepts it. Henceforth she converses with her Son but of Calvary, of His sufferings and death. She had strength to endure a Calvary that last thirty-three years. "Thine own soul a sword shall pierce." Do we comprehend the crucifixion implied in these words? From the moment that Mary heard them, she saw all the sufferings of her Son in their smallest details, she pondered them incessantly, and from that day she became the Queen of Martyrs.
What must we glean from the mystery of the Presentation of Jesus by Mary? The lesson is this, that we must not give ourselves to God’s service in order to enjoy, to have consolations, to possess unalterable peace and tranquillity. Doubtless, Jesus says: "Take My yoke, for it is sweet, and My burden is light." But He has also said: "He that does not take up his cross daily and follow Me, is not worthy of Me."
What, then, shall we do? We should offer ourselves in union with Mary, our Mother, give ourselves to God, and accept the pain, the sufferings, and all the crosses that He may will to send us. At first, after giving herself to God, the soul receives consolation, the service of God is full of sensible sweetness for her. There are many souls who, disgusted with the world in which they find only deceit, return to piety, to find in it peace and consolation. They seek that alone, they desire to find only that in God’s service. They serve Him as long as the Lord bestows upon them divine favors; but when He hides Himself, and wishes to substitute stronger nourishment instead of children’s food, they become disgusted, discouraged, and scrupulous. They torture their imaginations to find out what could have drawn upon them such punishment. They fancy that their confessions have not been sincere, that they have made bad Communions. They wish to find in themselves the cause of that change; but not succeeding, they become despondent, and end by abandoning their pious exercises.
We must not, indeed, disdain God’s consolations, we must receive them with joy when He sends them; but we must not seek them alone. Such sweetness, such favors pass, while Jesus alone remains forever. There have been saints who were favored with great sweetness from God, with ecstasies and transports—but O how they suffered! God gave them those celestial favors only at long intervals. They were the recompense of their sufferings, and an encouragement to suffer still more for His love. It is by suffering that we are sanctified. It is by crosses and trials that the soul is strengthened and disengaged from self, in which blessed state it no longer seeks its satisfaction in the service of God, but in God alone.
Such is the teaching of the mystery of Mary’s Purification and of Jesus Presentation in the Temple. Let us put it in practice if we wish to be worthy of the august Victim whom we incessantly contemplate in the Blessed Sacrament, and of His Mother who so generously offered Him for us.
Practice: To offer one s self to Jesus, the Victim of love on our altars, for all that He may desire of us in union with Mary.
Aspiration: O Mary, fruitful Vine, that hast given us the Eucharistic Wine! Be thou forever blessed!