Vigils Reading: Presentation B.V.M.

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Vigils Reading: Presentation B.V.M.

November 21, 2022

The Virgin Mary and the Temple, by Fr. Yves Congar[1]

The only occasion on which the Gospels expressly mention the Virgin Mary in connection with the Temple are in the account of her Purification and of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (LK 2:23-38) and the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple after four days’ absence on his part and three anxious searching by his parents (LK 2:42-50).  To these very brief indications, the piety of Christians very soon added the idea of the presentation of Mary in the Temple at the age of three to be consecrated to the service of God.  We are dealing here with a symbolical representation of a profound spiritual reality about which the tradition and the doctrine of the Church provide us with valid information.  Mary, predestined to be the Mother of Jesus, true God and true man, and to be worthy of her vocation, was prepared by the gift of exceptional graces and lived with unfailing fidelity a most pure life of inner consecration to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  As the type of all faithful souls and of the Church herself, Mary expressed spiritually and supremely in her life the “presentation” which, for each one of us, is to begin by the service of faith and to be consummated in heaven.

It is obvious that the tradition and doctrine of the Church may, without falling prey to the imaginary productions of the apocrypha, propound statements concerning the status of the Mother of God in relation either to the Jewish messianic temple going far beyond what we are explicitly told in the three short passages from the Gospel which narrate the incidents mentioned above.  If Mary is the Mother of God, she has a special relation to the body of Christ which is the true temple–to his physical body and doubtless also, in a certain sense, to his body the Church.  She is herself a temple of God in a quite specific and sublime way, both because Christ was within her from the moment of his conception until that of his birth, and because of the exceptional spiritual gifts she received in preparation for her divine motherhood and as a reward for her free acceptance of this vocation (LK 1:38), not only after the Annunciation but during the whole of her life.  Hence the liturgy–the Oriental liturgy in particular–shows a profound understanding of the mystery of Mary when it constantly uses the texts concerning the Temple and the tabernacle in order to express it.

     [1]The Mystery of the Temple,Westminster(Maryland) 1962, p.254-255.


November 21, 2022
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