Today we celebrate the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is celebrated on November 21st marking the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary the New in Jerusalem in the year 543. As with most of the Virgin’s Mary life, we know little about it. The story of the presentation of Mary comes from a book not in the Bible known as the Protoevangelium of James. It tells the story of Mary’s parents, Anne and Joachim, taking Mary to the temple when she was about three years old (see https://www.franciscanmedia.org/presentation-of-mary ).
We might use this memorial as an opportunity for us to think about how each of us is presented to our Lord. For most Catholics, this first happens when we are infants and our parents bring us to church for the Sacrament of Baptism. In Baptism, we become adopted children of God, and we (if adults or our parents if we are infants) pledge to live our lives in accord with God’s Will.
One should note that I said, “this first happens.” Baptism is when we are first presented to the Lord. Baptism is the first Sacrament we receive. Hence it is known as the gateway to the Sacraments.
There are a total of seven sacraments. They are broken down into three categories. The latter two categories are Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick) and the Sacraments of Service (Marriage and Holy Orders). In reflecting on how we are presented to our Lord, today I want to focus on the first category, Sacraments of Initiation.
It may seem rather obvious that the first Sacrament of Initiation is Baptism. It is how we are first initiated into Christian life. If you have been counting as I named the categories and sacraments above, you may note that I have only named five, including Baptism, so far. There are two more sacraments that are Sacraments of Initiation. They are Confirmation and Eucharist.
In these two sacraments, we are again presented to the Lord. If we were baptized as infants, we were presented to the Lord by our parents. As adolescents, in Confirmation we renew our baptismal promises ourselves and present ourselves (accompanied by our sponsor) for Confirmation.
Both Baptism and Confirmation are celebrated only once in a lifetime. Our First Eucharist is celebrated as a special event but then we receive the Eucharist over and over in our lives to be feed with the Body of Christ.
I also see our coming forth to receive Communion as an act of presenting ourselves to our Lord. Our act of coming forward for Communion at Mass signifies our desire to be faithful disciples. We are saying that we desire to live as children of God. I invite you to use the time you spend coming forth in the Communion procession as an opportunity to think about how you need to turn your life over to our Lord. Is there some aspect of your life you are holding back or falling short on? Then, present it to our Lord. If you think you are doing well as a disciple, then turn what the Lord has given to you back to him in service. This can be your way of presenting yourself to our Lord.