The Presentation--The Fourth Joyful Mystery
As we approach Christmas, I am writing about each of the Five Joyful Mysteries. You can read about the First Joyful Mystery--The Annunciation here, and the Second Joyful Mystery--The Visitation here, and the Third Joyful Mystery--The Nativity here.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery is the Presentation. This is when Mary and Joseph presented the newborn Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem. Jesus was consecrated to the Lord and a sacrifice of two doves, which was the prescribed sacrifice of the poor, was offered.
While Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the Temple two people bore witness to the child being the foretold Messiah. The first was Simeon. Luke 2 tells us that, Simeon "was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord."
The Holy Spirit led Simeon into the Temple where he took Jesus into his arms and blessed God saying "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel."
The second witness was Anna, a prophetess and widow who never left the Temple, but prayed and fasted there day and night. When she saw the Christ child she gave thanks to God and told everyone how He would redeem Israel.
Mary and Joseph were amazed by these witnesses. Simeon told them, "Behold, this child will cause the fall and rise of many in Israel, and will be a sign that is opposed." He had specific words for Mary, too. "And a sword will pierce your own soul also," he told her. Finally, Simeon said that through Jesus, "thoughts out of many hearts will be revealed."
Simeon's words came to pass. Christ is a light of revelation to the Gentiles. Billions of non-Jews have come to worship the one true God through Christ. Christ did cause the rise and fall of many. He was a sign that was opposed. And he did reveal the true hearts of people. Jesus showed the people the truth of God's words and He lived out that truth in His own life. Those in power did not appreciate the truth, and they crucified Him for it.
And just as Simeon predicted, Jesus' torture and death also pierced the soul of His mother, Mary. For what parent among us does not suffer when our children suffer? What parent would not gladly and instantly trade places with her child who was being tortured and executed? Mary suffered with every lash of the whip and with every hammer of the nail. When Christ was pierced for our transgressions, so was she. To pretend otherwise, to push the leading lady to a small role in the supporting cast in this drama of salvation, is an insult not only to Mary the Mother of God, but to Christ her son, who chose her to be His mother, who filled her with grace, and who allowed her to live long enough to suffer with Him as He hung on the cross.
That is why we pray, "Hail Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
Next I will write about the Fifth Joyful Mystery--The Finding in the Temple.