. . .to sharpen our sense of vocation
Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Catholic churches of the Latin Rite. The Second Vatican Council reformed the calendar of liturgical celebrations. One facet of that reform made more clear the connection between the Lord Jesus and Mary, his mother.
Over 40 years ago the church celebrated today as the Purification of Mary. (Eastern Rite Catholics continue to celebrate it.) The original Greek of Luke's Gospel connects Mary's purification and Jesus' presentation in the temple:
And when the days of her cleansing were fulfilled, according to the law of Moses, they led him to Jerusalem to render to the Lord, as it was written..."Every male opening wide the womb shall be called holy unto the Lord." [2.22]Presenting Jesus was no mere "Here's our baby, God."
Simeon, who came on the scene, filled with the Holy Spirit, described the quality of Jesus' holiness. His words are a guide to interpreting Luke's portrayal of Jesus:
“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." [2.34-35]If an emphasis is helpful to us, it is the Presentation of Lord. It reminds us to be alert to what Jesus invites each of us to notice--in one's life and in our entire culture--contradicts his good news.
Bellini's Presentation in the Temple is in the public domain.