Today’s feast of the Presentation of Our Lady strays a long way from historical Judaism but I think we can see in it an important truth, a metaphor, if you like, of the way in which God dwells within every human being. When Mary stepped into the Temple, the Shekinah — the glory of God — took on a new and important form, dwelling within her, not merely over her. Even though she was still a child, and did not yet bear within her the infant Christ, the Fathers have consistently taught that she was sanctified from the first moment of her conception. She was holy in a way that no one before her had been holy, illumined by the Glory within; and since she gave birth to our Saviour and we have been incorporated into Christ by baptism, that same gift of the indwelling Spirit has been ours, too.
We are close to Advent now, and it is a short leap from that thought of the child Mary being dedicated in the Temple to St John of the Cross’s
Del Verbo divino
la Virgen preñada
viene de camino:
¡si le dais posada!
With the Divine Word made pregnant, the Virgin walks down the road — if you will give her shelter!
‘If’: what a world of meaning is in that word! Today’s feast can be covered with a sickly sentimentality but at its heart lies a question each of us must answer. Will we welcome Christ in whatever form he chooses to come to us — even in the uncertain form of those we are tempted to overlook or fear?
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