This being a Saturday, it is the day to pray the joyful mysteries of the rosary. Recently in meditation on this set of mysteries, I thought about the fourth, the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple, and what it tells us about giving back to God what is His.
Mary and Joseph went to the temple “in accordance with the law,” because as good Jews, they were asked to present their firstborn male child to be consecrated to the Lord. So they were doing what was required and following the law. It is written that the fruit of this mystery is “obedience.”
I have always wondered how it felt for Mary to have a son that didn’t fully belong to her. I wonder if, in this moment of presenting her son in the temple, she felt a foreshadowing of how he would never truly be hers, because he was sent as a Son of Man for the whole world.
Beyond that, I think of our own call to present our gifts to God. Jesus was a gift to Mary, but one that she could not keep for herself. I have no doubt she understood that profoundly, deep in her soul.
A very wise person (my great-aunt Sister Andrea, OSB) recently told me, “A gift is just that - meant to be given away.” You may not have carried the Son of Man in your womb, but all of us have gifts or talents that make the world a better place and which must be returned to God - in other words, used in service to others. I think that is the definition of a talent or gift, that it cannot exist for its own sake, but as something to be shared.
What do I mean by that? Well, gifts take all forms. If you have the gift of counsel, for example, do you think it is better to keep it to yourself or, well, counsel others when they ask for your help? When looked at this way, it is apparent that everything in life is a gift - your time, your home, your intelligence, your woodworking skills, your ability to mimic voices, your ease with children, your ability to decorate cakes. Everything. Therefore, it is not that all can be given away, but that it ought to be.
What do you lose by generosity? Understand I do not mean acting as a doormat or letting others take advantage of you. But rather, living freely, with trust in God’s abundance which is exponentially greater than what we can conceive. And which will put to good use whatever it is we think we have to hold on to with clenched fists.
Live with obedience as Mary did when she presented God’s son back to him. She gifted herself back as his mother, his teacher, his home. She trusted in God’s plan for her life.