Nov 21 – Memorial for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today, we commemorate 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 seventh 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 reestablished by 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 (Mother Most Admirable).
In my vision I, John, saw Mount Zion, and standing on it a Lamb who had with him a hundred and forty-four thousand people, all with his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound coming out of the sky like the sound of the ocean or the roar of thunder; it seemed to be the sound of harpists playing their harps. There in front of the throne they were singing a new hymn in the presence of the four animals and the elders, a hymn that could only be learnt by the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the world; they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; they have been redeemed from amongst men to be the first-fruits for God and for the Lamb. They never allowed a lie to pass their lips and no fault can be found in them.
As Jesus looked up, he saw rich people putting their offerings into the treasury; then he happened to notice a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins, and he said, ‘I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in more than any of them; for these have all contributed money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in all she had to live on.’
For these have all contributed money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in all she had to live on.
God has blessed each and every one of us with a comfortable life, and gifts that are unique to us. If you are reading this, chances are you have access to the Internet; if you are reading this on the go, you have access to technology in your palm; if you are reading this on the way to work, you have employment; if you are reading this over lunch, you have access to food. For some, this is more than what they dare to dream of. So we should count ourselves blessed that God has granted us a life that allows us to be adequately comfortable.
Do we take it for granted? Perhaps. Perhaps now we come to expect certain things in our lives, as though it were a ‘given’ that we sometimes forget that it was a gift to begin with. And if given a gift, it is right that we should give thanks in return. When things go well and times are good, complacency sneaks in. Our thanks to God become like the offerings of the rich people into the church’s box in today’s reading — we do not give all of ourselves to God, but whatever we have ‘left over’, our time, our commitment, our lives. For us, we live our lives first, and put God second. I am guilty of that. And I feel guilty when the first thing that I do when I wake is to start reading my emails. Instead of thanking God for a brand new day and for a good night’s rest, I start letting the cares of the day creep in and take precedence before God.
I feel that sometimes God gives me challenges so that I won’t forget Him. I know that in the past, I have cried out to Him and prayed fervently when I have nowhere to turn to. I know that I would still do that if ever I were to face a challenge that I could not surmount. If things don’t flow well, I know it is because I have not flowed with God. God is waiting for me to pour out my entire self to Him, and to give Him my undivided time and attention, even if it was for five minutes, as long as I gave ALL of me to Him. And I would have given everything out of the poverty of my heart at the time, my ‘two silver coins’ worth to God.
We cannot receive God’s blessings if our hearts are full of ‘ourselves’. We need to empty our hearts to God, so that God can fill and renew them with the Holy Spirit. As the deer pants for the water, so too let our souls long after God.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, if I don’t give all of myself to You, I know I am only cheating myself of Your love and Your blessings. Help me then, to put God first in my life, with the faith that everything will be alright.
Thanksgiving: God, I give you thanks for the blessings and graces that I have received in my life. Thank you for filling my heart with love, with the Holy Spirit.