21 Nov – Memorial of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Commemorates the presentation of the Blessed Virgin as a child in the Temple where, according to tradition, she was educated.
The feast originated in the Orient probably about the 7th century and is found in the constitution of Manuel Comnenus (1166) as a recognized festival. It was introduced into the Western Church in the 14th century, abolished by Pope Pius V, but re-established by Pope Sixtus V in 1585. Its observance by the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the day of their origin led to the devotion of Mater Admirabilis.
Among the many masters who have represented this subject are: Alberti, Fra Bartolommeo, Biagio, Agostino, Carracci, Cima da Conegliano, Cossa, Holbein the Elder, Palma, Piombo, Tintoretto and Titian.
– The Patron Saint Index
1 Maccabees 2:15-29
The commissioners of King Antiochus who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein to make them sacrifice. Many Israelites gathered round them, but Mattathias and his sons drew apart. The king’s commissioners then addressed Mattathias as follows, ‘You are a respected leader, a great man in this town; you have sons and brothers to support you. Be the first to step forward and conform to the king’s decree, as all the nations have done, and the leaders of Judah and the survivors in Jerusalem; you and your sons shall be reckoned among the Friends of the King, you and your sons shall be honoured with gold and silver and many presents.’ Raising his voice, Mattathias retorted, ‘Even if every nation living in the king’s dominions obeys him, each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees, I, my sons and my brothers will still follow the covenant of our ancestors. Heaven preserve us from forsaking the Law and its observances. As for the king’s orders, we will not follow them: we will not swerve from our own religion either to right or to left.’ As he finished speaking, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein as the royal edict required. When Mattathias saw this, he was fired with zeal; stirred to the depth of his being, he gave vent to his legitimate anger, threw himself on the man and slaughtered him on the altar. At the same time he killed the king’s commissioner who was there to enforce the sacrifice, and tore down the altar. In his zeal for the Law he acted as Phinehas did against Zimri son of Salu. Then Mattathias went through the town, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘Let everyone who has a fervour for the Law and takes his stand on the covenant come out and follow me.’ Then he fled with his sons into the hills, leaving all their possessions behind in the town.
At this, many who were concerned for virtue and justice went down to the desert and stayed there.
As Jesus drew near Jerusalem and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it and said, ‘If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes! Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you – and all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!’
He saw the city and wept over it
I could still remember the look in my dad’s eyes. The yelling was easily silenced by the intensity of his loud stare. I was 17 years old at the time and my goal in life was to not have one or at least defer making a decision what that goal should be for as long as possible. Applications for college admissions were due in a few weeks and I wasn’t feeling compelled to finish them. My dad was onto me and confronted me one late evening.
He looked tired and his eyes showed it. He had just gotten home from a typical day at the modest restaurant where he put in the twelve hour days. Six days out of seven. My dad never received a formal education. When he was growing up in China at the time, those opportunities just were not available. So throughout all of his working life, my dad had to toil physically to earn a living.
He was angry. The red in his eyes glared at me. He also was only 17 years old (same age as me at the time of this incident) when he had to leave his family and immigrate abroad. Being the eldest son, it was his “duty” to venture out to provide for his family. Seldom did he talk about the loneliness he must have felt while being away from home. He never complained about the many sacrifices he made to provide the comfortable lifestyle for me and my siblings. But this time, I felt his anger and his frustration directed at me.
He was disappointed. The tears in his eyes gave it away.
I subsequently completed my applications and was accepted to university. Years later, I met an acquaintance of my father who spoke very fondly of him, although they might have only met once. He said – “Your dad is a great man. He’s done so much for his family. If it weren’t for him, your grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins would be leading much more difficult lives. He sponsored them all to the US. When they got there, he put them up and helped them find places to live, jobs to work and schools for their kids.” And so through the voice of a person very far removed from the hardships and struggles endured by my father – this person showed me what my parents had always been teaching. Family always comes first.
When Jesus approaches Jerusalem, knowingly heading towards death by crucifixion, He weeps. His sorrow is not out of His own suffering to come, but rather from the deep sympathy He has for His people and their suffering to come. Their attachments to their worldly ways and sinful practices have prevented them from seeing the salvation He offered. Jesus hoped that each person would be like the Prodigal Son who repents for his misdeeds and returns to his father who welcomes him back with great, overwhelming joy. (Luke 15: 11-32) For as Jesus says – “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15: 7)
(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)
Thanksgiving – Heavenly Father, we give thanks for our fathers on Earth who have sacrificed so much and taught us how to make the right choices in this life.
Prayer – Lord, we pray for wisdom so that we can teach our own children how to make the right choices in their lives.