Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The final portrait of the just and the unjust is given to us in the readings of this morning: the earthly end of the tyrant Antiochus, and the heavenly reign of the just with God. In his own eyes, Antiochus thought that he was a kind and benevolent ruler (except when at the end of his life he recalled the horrible way he had treated those in Judah). As he had denied others their worship in their country and temple, so was he to suffer the loss of his own homeland in his last days.
The Sadducees who denied the resurrection from the dead, confronted Jesus. They showed that they understood God’s kingdom solely in terms of this world. But Christ showed them that heaven is not so. Rather, as St. Augustine writes, the Sadducees wanted marriage so that they could have children who would continue their memory when they died. But in heaven, there is no more death. The Sadducees don’t have to worry any more about monuments or legacies. They don’t have to ask “how will I be remembered” when they get to enjoy beholding God face to face forever.
Mary, the Mother of our Lord, is a perfect example of the just one who has her priorities straight. Receiving all she had from the Lord, she was grateful, and she did not worry about how she would be remembered. Rather, she gave her attention to keeping the word of God in her heart, and how to meet the needs of her cousin who was going to have a child, etc. There is a tradition which we celebrate today that Mary’s character which we see first reflected at the Annunciation was not something that just happened then, but was a character formed from the time she was a small girl, and aided by her being offered to God at a young age. Today, although we do not find an account of it in the New Testament, we can imagine the generosity and faith of Mary’s parents, presenting her in the Temple, entrusting her (and hence their ‘legacy’) completely to God. Let us pray for such generosity and trust. Then at the end of our time on this earth, we will not have to worry so much about what we leave behind, but the God whom we to look forward to seeing face to face.