November 21, 2017

Mary's Presentation

November 21, 2017:  Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

See 15 connections with today?
Legend below
For Psalm 3 (d)
For gospel m
Magnificat settings (canticle m)
* d=weekday; m=memorial
Pope Francis homily
There are three main types of persecution:  purely religious; “mixed” with both religious and political motivations, and cultural, when a culture wants to make a clean break with a people's laws and religions.  This last type led to Eleazer's martyrdom, the account of which began in yesterday's 1st reading.  Some Jews, wanting to make an alliance with King Antiochus, asked him to allow them to introduce pagan institutions to make a break with culture, religion, and law, to impose an ideological colonization.  Some accepted it and became like the others, but to defend the people's traditions, a resistance arose.  Maccabees tells the story of these martyrs.  A persecution born of ideological colonization destroys, trying to make everyone the same, intolerant of differences.
King Antiochus was a “perverse root” that came to introduce these pagan customs.  Cultural colonization persecutes believers.  Think of the genocides of the last century, trying leave no place for differences or God.  Faced with such colonization, Eleazar became a contrary root, dying with the young people in mind, leaving a noble example; dying for love of God and the law, he became a root for the future.
What had come from the kingdom of Antioch was a novelty, but not all new things are bad; think of the Gospel.  You need to discern new things:  are they from the Lord, the Holy Spirit, rooted in God?  Or from a perverse root? Before, it was a sin to kill children, but today it's not a problem; it's a perverse novelty.  Yesterday, creation was respected, but today....
God's new things don't “negotiate” but grow and look ahead.  Colonizations deny the past and don't look ahead; living only in the moment, they can’t promise anything.  When they try to cancel out differences, they blaspheme God the Creator, trying to change creation.  The only medicine is bearing witness, martyrdom.  Eleazar, considering the inheritance he'd leave by his example, gives that witness, looking ahead to the legacy of his testimony, a root to give life, a promise of fruitfulness for the young.  May his example help us in moments of confusion in the face of colonization proposed to us.
  • 2 Mc 6:18-31  Old scribe Eleazar was forced to eat pork, spat it out, refused offer to substitute another meat, endured torture with joy, stayed loyal, died willingly with courage, set noble example of virtue for all.
  • Ps 3:2-7  "The Lord upholds me."  My adversaries rise up, but you, my shield, answer and sustain me.
  • Lk 19:1-10  Jesus / wealthy Zacchaeus on sycamore:  “Hurry down; I must stay at your house.”  He hurried down and received him with joy.  Others:  “He's going to a sinner's house.”  Zacchaeus / Jesus:  “Lord, I'll give the poor half my possessions and repay people fourfold.” / “Today salvation has come to this house.  The Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.”
  • Zec 2:14-17  Rejoice; I'm coming to dwell among you.  Many shall join themselves to the Lord and be his people.  Silence!  The Lord stirs forth from his holy dwelling.
  • Lk 1:46-55  "The Almighty works marvels for me.  Holy is his name!" OR "Blessed is the Virgin Mary, who bore the Son of the eternal Father."  "I proclaim the Lord's greatness, for he looked on his lowly servant.  All will call me blessed:  he's done great things for me.  He showed mercy and strength, routed the proud, cast down the mighty, lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry, sent the rich away empty, helped Israel, and remembered his promise of mercy."
  • Mt 12:46-50  “Jesus, your mother and your brothers are asking to speak with you.” / Here are my mother and my brothers:  Whoever does my Father's will is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
  • Creighton:  Zacchaeus showed he'd absorbed Jesus' words by offering to give his possessions to the poor and repay anyone he'd extorted.  I need to absorb and live the words of the gospel in my life.  The Son came to seek and save what was lost.  As Jesus found Zacchaeus in a tree, he can find and help me when I get caught up in things instead of people, when I don’t do justice.
Zacchaeus/ Whitehead
via TextWeek
I'm not sure I'd make the choice Eleazar did in the 1st reading, but I must strive to live my faith and pray for his virtue.  May I remember his example when I'm tempted to take shortcuts, being less that I should.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "What do the saved do?"  When Zacchaeus was saved, he was moved to give half his belongings to the poor. Jesus loved and challenged a man, saying: "Go sell what you have and give to the poor; then come follow me."  Peter said to Jesus: "We have put aside everything to follow you!"  In the early Church, "all who owned property or houses sold them and donated the proceeds" to the extent that Ananias and Sapphira felt compelled to lie about giving the proceeds.  When we give our lives to Christ, all is new.  To follow the Savior is to lose our lives and be "delivered from the futile way of life" our culture has handed onto us.  May we be converted as Zacchaeus was, crucified with Christ, and love like Jesus.
    Presentation of the Virgin
    in the Temple/ Giotto
  • PassionistToday we celebrate Mary's parents presenting her to God in the temple.  The Bible doesn't record the ceremony, whose protocol centers on sons though not excluding girls.  Naturally Mary's parents would have wanted to offer their daughter to God this way.
The spirituality associated with today is one of reverential openness to whatever God might be asking.  Wealthy Zacchaeus made an opportunity for himself to meet the Lord, by climbing a tree.  Self-confident, he jumped at the opportunity to host Jesus and took the initiative to cement his relationship with Jesus by showing how he was going to improve his life.  Today's celebration speaks to those open to any overtures God makes to them, and also to those who initiate opportunities to meet the Lord in ways they develop.  See how God operates in your life, and respond.
  •  "Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully":  Jesus often visited the "uninvited."  Tax collectors, who accumulated wealth at others' expense, were treated as outcasts.  Everybody hated Zacchaeus, but in his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible.  He repents, deciding to give his goods to the poor and make restitution; his change of heart resulted in a change of life the community could see as genuine.  "Zacchaeus saw Jesus without the crowd in his way.   The crowd laughs at the lowly, who don't insist on getting back at their enemies; they say, 'You clod; you can't stick up for yourself and get back what's your own.'  They prevent Jesus from being seen, blocking the sight of the one who said, 'Father, forgive them.'  Zacchaeus ignored the crowd and climbed a sycamore, 'silly fruit' tree.  'We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews, but folly to the Gentiles.'  The wise of this world laugh at us about the cross and say, 'You worship a crucified God!'  'The world's wisdom is folly with God.'  You call our minds foolish, but we climb the sycamore and see Jesus; you can't see him because you're ashamed to climb it.  Let the humble climb the cross.  Don't be ashamed; fix it on your forehead.  You make fun of the sycamore, but it's what enabled me to see Jesus.  'God's foolishness is wiser than we' (Augustine, paraphrased).  Jesus is ready to make his home with us.  How do I make room for him?
  • Universalis:  Today's memorial celebrates Mary’s “dedication” of herself to God from infancy, inspired by the Spirit, whose grace had filled her since her immaculate conception.
Dress legend
  • 'Mary' pin:  Mary's Presentation (today's celebration)
    Sycamore tree
  • 'Scroll' pin:  Eleazar the scribe (1st reading d)
  • 'Blood drop' pin, red socks:  Eleazar's martyrdom (1st reading d)
  • 'Pigs' suspenders:  Eleazar was being forced to eat pork (1st reading d)
  • 'Hands' pin:  I'd never escape the Almighty's hands (1st reading d); Jesus stretched out his hand to his disciples (gospel m); the souls of the just are in God's hands (November:  all souls/saints)
  • 'Shield' tie pin (still lost; see here):  You, Lord, are my shield (psalm d)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  When I call the Lord, he answers (psalm d)
  • 'Tree' pin:  Sycamore (gospel d)
  • 'Coin' button:  Generosity and restitution of tax collector Zacchaeus (gospel d)
  • 'House' tie:  "I must stay at your house" (gospel d)
  • "Boundless mercy" pin:  The Lord's mercy is from age to age (canticle m)
  • '?' tie pin:  "Who are my mother and brothers?" (gospel m)
  • White shirt:  Liturgical color for Presentation of Mary

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