This weekend, we are finally(!) baptizing our eight-month-old daughter! Honestly, it’s been too long… the baptism gown that her sister once wore is just a tiny bit short on her. Which is probably a good thing, because that will mean that she can stand up and use her feet, which she loves to do. But it’s been too long — a month or two more and she would have outgrown it entirely!
And so, this week has honestly been a bit of a blur and I have a million things to do to prepare for the baptism.
Yet! Because of the baptism, the Presentation has been on my mind as of late. After all, when we baptize our infants, don’t we present our children to the Lord? It is like a beautiful imitation of Mary and Joseph, as they brought the Child Jesus to the Temple! Except better, because Jesus is fully present in the sacrament, and the Lord is known to us. Plus, our sin is washed away, all thanks to God’s grace!
It is such a beautiful sacrament!
Still, back before Christ came to save us, there was not that beautiful opportunity for infants to be baptized. But, parents still desired to have their children know the Lord. Thus they brought their children to the Temple, knowing that God was physically present behind the veil of the Holy of the Holies. And there, they presented their children to the Lord.
Here is the gospel which describes the Presentation:
22 When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” 24and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.25Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. 27He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, 28he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:29“Now, Master, you may let your servant goin peace, according to your word,30for my eyes have seen your salvation,31which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,32a light for revelation to the Gentiles,and glory for your people Israel.”33The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 34and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted 35(and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” 36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, 37and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. 38And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
And so, for today, I would like to share one of my favorite depictions of the Presentation. That is not to say that it is the best depiction of the Presentation. Hardly! The icon is over 700 years old and definitely needs to be handled carefully. And yet, it has a truth that I love about it. Take a look!
In it, St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary present Christ to Simeon, while Anna looks over his shoulder. Simeon cuddles with Jesus… or at least tries to cuddle with Him! Yet, Jesus wiggles His way out and reaches for His mother. The Virgin Mary, in anticipation, has her arms out, ready to catch Jesus whenever Jesus is ready for her. St. Joseph, in the meantime, holds two doves and is ready for the sacrifice.
Now, is this a realistic picture of Jesus and Mary? Probably not. The days of purification are fairly close after the newborn phase, so honestly, as a newborn, Jesus would probably be passively laying in Mother Mary’s arms.
All the same, this is the scene that I am expecting at my daughter’s baptism, as she is definitely wiggly and would probably not be a fan of having cold water sloshed on her!
Anyway, please pray for my family, and especially my daughter, as we bring her into the Church!
This blog is part of a blog series about meditations of the Rosary, in honor for October, which is the month dedicated to the Rosary! This artwork, as well as many others, are available in my book, The Joyful Mysteries, which allows you to pray the Rosary prayer by prayer, with each prayer illustrated with gorgeous religious art. If you would like to learn more about the books, click here!