The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In unity with Eastern Christianity, and commemorating the dedication in 543 of the New Basilica of Saint Mary, this feast celebrates Mary’s “dedication” of herself to God from her infancy, inspired by the Holy Spirit, whose grace had filled her ever since her immaculate conception.
Hail, Holy Mother, who gave birth to the King who rules heaven and earth for ever.
As we venerate the glorious memory of the most holy Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession, that we, too, may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: 2 Maccabees 6: 18-31
Eleazar, one of the foremost teachers of the Law, a man already advanced in years and of most noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth wide to swallow pig’s flesh. But he, resolving to die with honour rather than to live disgraced, went to the block of his own accord, spitting the stuff out, the plain duty of anyone with the courage to reject what it is not lawful to taste, even from a natural tenderness for his own life. Those in charge of the impious banquet, because of their long-standing friendship with him, took him aside and privately urged him to have meat brought of a kind he could properly use, prepared by himself, and only pretend to eat the portions of sacrificial meat as prescribed by the king; this action would enable him to escape death, by availing himself of an act of kindness prompted by their long friendship. But having taken a noble decision worthy of his years and the dignity of his great age and the well-earned distinction of his grey hairs, worthy too of his impeccable conduct from boyhood, and above all of the holy legislation established by God himself, he publicly stated his convictions, telling them to send him at once to Hades. “Such pretence,” he said; “does not square with our time of life; many young people would suppose that Eleazar at the age of ninety had conformed to the foreigners’ way of life, and because I had played this part for the sake of a paltry brief spell of life might themselves be led astray on my account; I should only bring defilement and disgrace on my old age. Even though for the moment I avoid execution by man, I can never, living or dead, elude the grasp of the Almighty. Therefore if I am man enough to quit this life here and now I shall prove myself worthy of my old age, and I shall have left the young a noble example of how to make a good death, eagerly and generously, for the venerable and holy laws.” With these words he went straight to the block. His escorts, so recently well disposed towards him, turned against him after this declaration, which they regarded as sheer madness. Just before he died under the blows, he groaned aloud and said, “The Lord whose knowledge is holy sees clearly that, though I might have escaped death, whatever agonies of body I now endure under this bludgeoning, in my soul I am glad to suffer, because of the awe which he inspires in me.” This was how he died, leaving his death as an example of nobility and a record of virtue not only for the young but for the great majority of the nation.
R/ The Lord upholds me.
How many are my foes, O Lord! How many are rising up against me! How many are saying about me: ‘There is no help for him in God.’
But you, Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, who lift up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord. He answers from his holy mountain.
I lie down to rest and I sleep. I wake, for the Lord upholds me. I will not fear even thousands of people who are ranged on every side against me.
Gospel Acclamation: Ps129:5
Alleluia, alleluia! My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word. Alleluia!
Gospel: Luke 19:1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance: he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.” And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. “He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house.” they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, “Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.”
Prayer over the Offerings
Receive, O Lord, we ask, the prayers of your people with the sacrificial offerings, that, through the intercession of Blessed Mary, the Mother of your Son, no petition may go unanswered, no request be made in vain. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Cf. Lk 11: 27
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the eternal Father.
Prayer after Communion
As we receive this heavenly Sacrament, we beseech, O Lord, your mercy, that we, who rejoice in commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary, may by imitating her serve worthily the mystery of our redemption. Through Christ our Lord.
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly: today I must go and stay in your house.” Dear friends, meeting Jesus has hardly ever been easy or obvious. This story from Luke presents us with the typical case of Zacchaeus (a short man, tax collector and sinner) who longed to meet the Messiah whom he had heard very much. How can such a wealthy and influential man seek Jesus (a modest man who is not of his social class) to the point of climbing a sycamore tree? Through Zacchaeus’ intense thirst to see Jesus and talk with him, we can imagine and understand the omnipotence of God and the importance of his presence in the life of a man (even a rich one). Aware of his sinful state and thirsty for human-affectionate-spiritual wealth, Zacchaeus embarks on the path of conversion that leads to an encounter with God. Yes, what use is it for a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul? Let us therefore know how to make a distinction and seek enrichment in God.