The Virgin Mary has been honored with many titles by the Church over the centuries. One of my favorites is Our Lady of Hope. This title reminds me of her Presentation in the Temple that we celebrate on Nov. 21.
From the beginning of her life, Our Lady was a vivid representation of hope. Tradition tells us that her parents St. Joachim and St. Ann were childless for many years. They were graced with the birth of Mary when St. Ann was past child-bearing age. It is a miracle of hope for the couple that we see repeated in many Scripture stories, especially with St. John the Baptist born to St. Elizabeth who never bore a child until well past child-bearing age. Hope met hope at the Visitation. The hoped-for Mary met the hoped-for John the Baptist, who leaped in Elizabeth’s womb at Mary’s greeting. St. John the Baptist was the first to proclaim the Hope of the world that was living inside Mary’s womb!
We know little about the Virgin Mary’s early life. Tradition says her parents took her to the Temple at a very young age to live. It is here that she lived out her childhood worshipping God. Historical documents tell us this was not an uncommon practice at the time for Jews. Samuel was given by his mother Hannah to live in the temple when he was weaned. (I Samuel I: 21-28.)
The Presentation of Mary in the Temple is a feast that helps prepare our hearts as we enter into the holy season of Advent and Christmas. By meditating on Mary’s Presentation in the Temple, let’s start thinking of how we can present ourselves to God in our own way using the Virgin Mary as an example of hope in all that is to come.