February 2 liturgically celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It commemorates the occasion when Our Lady, in obedience to Jewish law, went to the Temple in Jerusalem both to be purified 40 days after the birth of her son, Jesus, and to present him to God as her firstborn. (cfr. Lk 2,22-38)
Many precious lessons can be derived from this feast, among them the fact that Our Lady, who clearly would have no need to submit to that law, just went ahead with it, without taking advantage of the privilege she clearly enjoyed, and avoiding any sense of entitlement.
It is something worth emulating, since this is a clear expression of humility, an indispensable virtue that would enable us to stick with God and his will and ways. We have to be most wary when we happen to enjoy some privileged positions or status in life because we tend to think that we deserve more entitlements. And not only would we expect them. We may even demand them for us. Without this humility, we in the end would separate ourselves from God.
Let’s be reminded that whatever privileges, favors and blessings we may enjoy in life are meant for us to strengthen our desire to serve God and others, and not to be served. But as it is, we should try to avoid them, since they tend only to spoil and corrupt us. Rather, we should try to follow what Christ himself once said—that we enter by the narrow gate instead of preferring the wide gate and the broad road that can only lead us to our destruction. (cfr. Mt 7,13-14)
This is also the example of Christ himself who, as St. Paul noted in one of his epistles, being God emptied himself to become man and went all the way to offering his life for all our sins. (cfr. Phil 2,7) This was also shown when Christ went ahead to pay temple tax when he obviously would have been exempted from it. (cfr. Mt 17,24-27) Seemingly impossible for us to do, we should just try our best to imitate that example, relying on God’s grace and on our all-out effort.
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord also reminds us that we have to give not only the best that we have to God first, but also everything that we have. We have to remember that our life ought to be spent as an offering. It has to be lived as a gift, because it is first of all a gift also from God to us. This is a fundamental attitude to develop toward our life, because absent that, we would have a gravely handicapped understanding of life, prone to all sorts of anomalies.
Our life, of course, can be described in many, endless ways. It’s a shared life with God. It’s a life in the Spirit, a life of grace. It’s a participation in the intimate trinitarian life of God. But we have to remember that we have been created in love and for love, and that love should be the basic governing principle of our life.
In other words, our life has to mirror the life of God himself, whose image and likeness we are. Since God is love, is self-giving, then we too have to live in love and in self-giving.*