Yesterday, in the Western Church, we celebrated the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, or otherwise known historically as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is from the Gospel reading where we hear the prophecy of St. Simeon declare that he has seen the salvation for both the Jews and the Gentiles. The salvation that St. Simeon declares is of course – Jesus Christ.
As my Pastor, Fr. Will said today in his homily, if there is one person who did not need to be presented in the Temple, it was Jesus Christ. It was his Father’s home and he is the fulfillment of the Temple. If there was one person who did not to be purified, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was conceived immaculately and was completely full of grace. They both could have passed on this event in the Temple, but they chose not to out of humility and to be our constant examples of humility and obedience in the divine plan of God.
Understanding this, I now give you a few excerpts from St. Francis de Sales’ homily from February 2, 1620. He will take what we read above and open it up even more so. I hope you enjoy the read.
“First, what greater and more profound humility could be imagined that that which Our Lord and Our Lady practice in coming to the Temple: The One comes to be offered there the same as other children of sinful men, while the other comes to be purified! It is certain that Our Lord could be not obliged to this ceremony, since He was purity itself, and it referred only to sinners. As to Our Lady, what need had she to be purified? She neither was nor could be blemished, having received so excellent a grace from the time of her Conception that the cherubim’s and seraphim’s is in no way comparable to it. For if indeed God prevented them with His grace from their creation to forestall their falling into sin, nevertheless they were not confirmed in grace from that moment in such a way that they could no longer deviate from it. But they were so afterwards, in virtue of the choice they made to avail themselves of this first grace and by the voluntary submission of their free will…both the Child and the Mother, notwithstanding their incomparable purity, come today to present themselves in the Temple as if they were sinners like the rest of men. O act of incomparable humility…
The greater the dignity of the persons who humble themselves, the more estimable is the act of humility they make. O God! How great are Our Lord and Our Lady who is His Mother!…The humility of our Divine Savior and His most blessed Mother was always accompanied by a perfect obedience. Obedience had such power over both of them they would rather have died, and even by death on a cross, than fail to obey. Our Lord died on the Cross through obedience…As to Our Lady, examine and consider the whole course of her life. You will find there nothing but obedience.”
Let us all ask God the Father to have the humility and obedience that Our Lord and Our Lady had on this day in the Temple and throughout their entire lives here on Earth. Help us to be more like them and learn to follow the laws, rules, and procedures we encounter in our daily lives.