Presentation of the Lord
Along Route 107 in upper Montgomery County, Our Lady of the Presentation Parish offers a distinctive landmark with its brick exterior adorned by a colorful mosaic depicting the Presentation of the Lord. Today is the feast day of that joyous occasion in the life of Jesus that is also the subject of one of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary.
As Saint Luke recounts the story behind the mosaic, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem with the newborn Jesus to fulfill the ritual laws required of Jews after the birth of a child (2:22-38). According to the law, Jesus as a firstborn son had to be presented in the Temple to be consecrated to God. Luke’s Gospel then tells us of a joyful encounter between the Messiah and his people, represented by the elderly Simeon and Anna, who prophesy regarding the Child’s life and mission. Simeon was a steadfast man of faith and the Holy Spirit was upon him, and he recognized Jesus as a light to the nations. Anna was a woman of prayer who likewise had eyes to see Jesus as Lord, offering thanks to God and telling others about her encounter with the Redeemer.
In his 1999 Letter to Artists, Saint John Paul II wrote that sacred art can offer a bridge between God and humanity. The artwork on the outside wall of Our Lady of the Presentation Church in Poolesville does just that, revealing an important truth about our relationship to Christ. The dynamic depicted in the mosaic is two-fold – Joseph holds two turtledoves as his offering to God, standing beside Mary as she tenderly presents the infant Jesus to Simeon and Anna, who accept and recognize the Messiah.
Like Mary and Joseph, we too can present Jesus to the world by sharing his love with others by what we do and say. And like Simeon and Anna, we can stop to recognize Christ in the moments of everyday life and prayerfully offer thanks to God for our encounter with the Lord. As Pope Francis said during his 2015 visit with clients, volunteers and staff members of Catholic Charities at Saint Patrick Church in Washington, “I would like to invite you to pray together, for one another, with one another. That way we can keep helping one another to experience with joy that Jesus is in our midst.”