This is the fourth part of a series that will follow the biblical story of Mary throughout May. To honor her during her month, we are diving deeper into eight key mysteries of the Rosary offering reflections on the Blessed Mother’s role through the Gospels and New Testament. Need to catch up? You can find the other parts of the series here.
In the fourth Joyful Mystery we see how Mary is a beautiful example of faithfulness. In the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, we see her faithfully fulfilling all the necessary steps of a Jewish woman after giving birth to her first born son. The Law of Moses prescribed that the firstborn male needed to be redeemed by a sacrifice. This harkened to the time of the first Passover, when the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites who had blood from a sacrificed lamb over their doorways. From the time of Moses onward, the tradition of redeeming the firstborn son continued as a perpetual reminder of the saving grace of God. How fitting that Mary and Joseph brought God the Deliverer of Israel to the Temple to fulfill all righteousness.
Just as later Jesus would be baptized by John in the Jordan, though he needed no salvation, Jesus was redeemed in the Temple as the first born son. Mary’s faithfulness to obey God’s command did not go unnoticed by Simeon and Anna who were waiting for Mary to bring Jesus to the Temple. Obviously they knew the Temple would be the first stop for the Messiah to appear on his mission to redeem the world. Perhaps it was with great anticipation Mary entered the Temple, expecting a sign of confirmation from God during this significant ritual. She was met by two prophets, who recognized the gift she brought to the Temple and ultimately brought to the world.
But this sign would also be mingled with grief. St. John Paul II reflected on the significance of Simeon’s prophecy to Mary that “a sword will pierce through your own soul also…”:
Simeon’s words seem like a second Annunciation to Mary, for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely, in misunderstanding and sorrow. While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful.
— St. John Paul II, Redemptioris Mater, 16
As we go to Mass to receive this amazing gift that has been given to us through the hands of Mary and the prophets, let us also go in anticipation of what we can receive through the reading of the word, through the prayers and through the miracle of the Eucharist.
Do we present our souls to the Eucharist with the same reverence that Mary presented Jesus in the Temple?
Painting by Luca Giordano
At my marriage, the baptisms of each of my kids, the weddings, and baptisms of relatives’ I offered a prayer up to Jesus offering those involved to Him…With the realization, that as was the case for Mary and Jesus, that this could be through misunderstanding and sorrow…if that be God’s Will…and we have had our share…however, I always been faithful; and in the end we have come through stronger, wiser, kinder, more caring, loving, and merciful…Someone asked me one time, when I told them this, why I did this…I didn’t know what to answer…I just thought it was what everyone did…but I have since learned it is not…it takes courage to give your life and that of your loved ones totally into the hands of Jesus…but I have learned that God alone knows what each of us needs to experience to grow on our journey through life…and that is not something I want to be responsible for…for I know I don’t know them or myself half as well as He does.
On the occasion of baptism the question in your case is really tough to answer as there maybe others surrounding us who take baptism as nothing and we have to weigh our words whither it will create scandal or bring unity among us, so ones silence may be a good choice in order to let others to be touch by the holy spirit for their further discernment.
My prayer was always done silently…one just between me and God…This is the first time I have told others what I have done, except for that one other person…I don’t believe silent prayer offered will create scandal or bring disunity or unity among those I am with…though I also, baptized three of my grandchildren, when my children refused to have it done…That also was done with no one around when the kids were babies…I have since made a note of it to be given to my kids later on…as per the suggestion of a priest friend of mine.
Every sacrament as baptism always needs full cooperation otherwise it becomes ineffective.
Well said, Beverly. I think many of us strive to offer up prayers for our loved ones, with the realization, as you say, that they may face sorrow in their lives. And the realization that “God alone knows what each of us needs”. So many times, we pray that our loved ones will not have to undergo trials of difficulty and sorrow. But we cannot interfere with their destiny. It’s perfectly normal to want to take away the pain and suffering and struggles of the ones we love. There’s a passage in “My Utmost for His Highest” (Oswald Chambers): “Peter . . . said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘. . . what is that to you? You follow Me’ ” (John 21:21-22). One of the hardest lessons to learn comes from our stubborn refusal to refrain from interfering in other people’s lives. It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s plan for others. You see someone suffering and say, “He will not suffer, and I will make sure that he doesn’t.” You put your hand right in front of God’s permissive will to stop it, and then God says, “What is that to you?” …When you do have to give advice to another person, God will advise through you with the direct understanding of His Spirit. Your part is to maintain the right relationship with God so that His discernment can come through you continually for the purpose of blessing someone else.
Beverly, as you know, sometimes it’s simply our prayers that are most effective in helping others gain faith and achieve salvation. I pray for you and your children and grandchildren. The heavens hear your prayers. Remember, Jesus said, “It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.” (Matthew 18:14)
Thank you for your inspirational comments…I love Oswald Chambers’ book…it is touches upon many things we can use in our everyday living…Thank you for the reminder…
Jesus baptism is truly not necessary for salvation but for obedience of the law in righteousness. So how much more on Christians but adamantly reject baptism and treat it as mere ordinance so it does not convey grace but merely nice thing to do? Why yet call themselves Christians if Lord’s command intended them to be violated?