By Anne Metz
We celebrate the Feast of the Presentation forty days after celebrating Jesus’ birth at Christmas. This is the day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple to consecrate him to the Lord.
What can we, as mothers, reflect on as we celebrate this feast day?
Our Own Babies, Given to God
In Luke Chapter 2 we read: When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” (Luke 2:22-23).
Mary and Joseph received this gift, Jesus, from God and presented him back to our Heavenly Father for sanctification. We too, are called to present our children to God, to thank Him for this gift of the life of our child, to recognize that this life does not truly belong to us, to know that we are put in this child’s life as carers on this side of heaven, and to offer them back to God.
During this Feast of the Presentation, let us remind ourselves that our children are God’s children. Let us trust that He will cover them completely in his unfailing love and be their strength and support during their journey on this Earth. He will never leave them. He will provide for them in ways we cannot. He will be there for them to lean on in times of suffering and in times when we have failed them. He is their home.
As we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation, let us again present our children to God, or rather, present His children back to Him.
A Sword Shall Pierce Our Hearts
In the Temple, Simeon recognized the baby Jesus as the Messiah that was promised. He praised God and thanked him for the blessing of beholding the Messiah in his lifetime.
However, his blessing was followed with a warning for Mary:
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” ( Luke 2:34-35).
Simeon foretold the suffering Mary would experience as she witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. Even in this joyful moment at the Presentation, there is an element of sadness. We will not suffer what Mary suffered, but as mothers, we too will have broken hearts as we witness the inevitable suffering that occurs in our children's lives as a result of this broken world.
Two things can give us solace here. First, knowing that Jesus died for our sins and that through His death and resurrection, He has opened the door to eternal life for us all. We have paradise to look forward to and the knowledge that God has a plan and a purpose for our suffering. Even if we can’t fully understand it yet, we can trust.
Second, we can again present our children to the Lord, the Divine Creator. As we offer our children to God, we can trust in His larger plan and unconditional love. When we do that, it can ease the burden we feel to try to prevent suffering in our child’s lives and instead trust that God is in control and has our child’s best interest at heart.
I offer you the following prayer as a way to present your child to God today. Feel free to add your child’s name into the prayer, to make it more personalized.
A Prayer to Present Your Child to God
Thank you for the gift of my child and thank you for choosing me to be his mother.
You are our perfect Father in Heaven and in your perfect plan, you have given me, an imperfect human, the task of raising your son.
I ask that you fill me with wisdom and understanding, with grace and mercy, and with your love, so that I may pour it onto my child.
I offer you today, your son. I place him in your arms and into your unfailing love and care.
Help him to know you and to feel your love for him.
When I fail, rise up to catch him.
When he suffers, be his peace.
When he cries, wipe his tears.
When he feels lonely, reveal your presence, Lord.
And when he is joyful, laugh with him.
Help me to trust that you know what is best for him, that you have a plan and a purpose for his life, and that your plans are for his good.
Anne Metz works part-time as a freelance writer and spends the other part working for Growing Catholics, whose mission is to bring scripture to all, especially young people.