Friday, November 21, 2008

Notes on the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple.

In both East and West, the Church celebrates today the Presentation of Mary in the Temple. The event commemorated by today's feast does not appear in any of the canonical gospels, but is rather based on a venerable Christian tradition attested to by the apocryphal Protevangelium of St. James. Paralleling the later Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, today's feast reminds us that the Mother of God began to prepare for her vocation long before the Angel Gabriel told her that she was to become the Mother of God.

Celebrated a little more than a month before our celebration of the Nativity, today's feast also reminds us of the great mystery of the Incarnation. As Orthodox theologian Father Thomas Hopko notes in his book The Winter Pascha, today Mary "enters into the Holy of Holies to become herself the 'animated Holy of Holies,' the one in whom Christ is formed, thereby making her, and everyone who is one with her in faith, the 'abode of heaven.'" As Hopko continues, "We are all made to be living temples of God. We are all created to be dwelling places of His glory. We are all fashioned in His image and likeness to be abodes of His presence."

As we begin to prepare for the great Feast of the Nativity, we would do well to reflect in the coming days on what it means for us to be abodes of God's presence. Though God came into Mary in a unique way through the Incarnation, we nonetheless believe that the Holy Spirit has come to rest upon us through our initiation as Christians. As we celebrate the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, let us take some time to reflect on how we live out the commitment that we have made to be bearers and witnesses of God in the world. AMDG.


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