Presentation of the B.V. Mary, Saturday, Nov 21

 Revelation 11:4-12; Lk 20:27-40 

The two prophets heard a voice: "Come up here—to heaven!" 

The Book of Revelation is a paradoxical book. On the one hand it's utterly confusing. On the other hand, it's utterly clear. Take today's description of the two witnesses. It seems to fit Moses and Elijah, who tradition said would return to earth before the final Day of the lord.

And, certainly, they did return to earth to speak with Jesus during his transfiguration. But other parts of the description leave us utterly confused. Even though we may not know the meaning of many individual passages in Revelation, the main message of the book is clear. God is saying to the persecuted Christians for whom the book was originally intended: "Hold on! Just as my Son emerged victorious after his suffering, so will you. So take heart!"


How do we “hold on” and “take heart” in trials? Jesus said to his disciples, “You can do nothing without me.” (Jn 15:5)


At a time when the first persecutions of the Church had begun, the Book of Revelation speaks of the killing by evil forces of those who witness with their lives. But like the dried-up bones in Ezekiel, the martyrs will be raised to life and go to heaven.

The two witnesses of this passage are symbolically referred to as olive trees and lampstands, imagery drawn from the Book of Zechariah. Rather than being identified with any concrete indi­viduals, they are best seen as sources of life and light before God. In the spirit of the prophets of old, they have the power to close the sky or to change water into blood. A period of desolation comes upon them with the emergence of the great beast, the sym­bol of evil, here synonymous with pagan Rome. The beast suc­ceeds in conquering and killing the prophets, whose corpses are left exposed in the city of evil for three and a half days. The prophets are then restored to life and called to the heavenly realm.


The Sadducees in today’s Gospel are guilty of too literal an interpretation of the scriptures. To understand the Book of Revelation we have to capture and interpret biblical symbols. What is clear from today’s reading is that evil will have its day, but goodwill eventually triumph. The prophetic voice may be silenced for a while, but the truth will eventually win out. We should never be dis­couraged to the extent that evil is seen as victorious. The scriptures consistently assure us that Christ will have the final word.

 “God is the God of the living,” says Jesus. He calls back to life those who die; death is overcome since Jesus rose from the dead. The witnesses of the first reading are put to death by the mighty of this earth because they contest the abuse of power, but God raises them up. The resurrection is the core of our faith, not only as a promise to live on in God’s joy after death but already now as a power of building up one another in human dignity, justice, peace, and serving love. We cannot die for ever, because God cannot stop loving us.


Today we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is an event that is not recorded in the gospels. But it is found in an extra-biblical source called the Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne had been childless, but then they received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving, they brought the child Mary to the Temple to consecrate her to the Lord. It was believed that Mary remained in the Temple to be formed and prepared for her role as the Mother of God. The focus of this feast is to show that even in her childhood Mary was completely dedicated to God. It is from this account that arose the feast of Mary's Presentation. A further reflection on this feast would also make us think about the environment at home and the formation that we are giving our children and our family members. 

The Christian home is to be a sanctuary of prayer where the members can grow in holiness and in the ways of the Lord. When our will is nothing less than to do the will of God, then together with Mary, we will present our lives as an offering that is pleasing to God. 

Let us pray

God, source and purpose of all life, you have committed yourself to us with a love that never ends. Give us the indestructible hope that you have prepared for us a life and a happiness beyond the powers of death. May this firm hope to sustain us to find joy in life and to face its difficulties and challenges resolutely and fearlessly, through Jesus Christ our Lord.