The Presentation of the Lord

Dear Priscilla,

If you have complained about your studies to me, I assume it’s because you want me to give you a firm rebuke, and not a soft pat on the back.  Of course, your studies are challenging! Didn’t you go to college in order to learn something, to train your mind?  You’re not in kindergarten anymore, so don’t expect to win lollipops without working hard.  In times like these, you need to reactivate your authentic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Too often we think of this devotion as limited to pious sighs in front of sappy statues. It goes well beyond that, however.  Mary is the living school of Christian virtue, and today’s feast is one of her best lessons.

You remember, of course, that Jewish women had to undergo a period of isolation and purification after giving birth (the ancient Jews recognized the sacredness of human life, and this period of purification showed that they believed motherhood brought a woman into uncommon contact with the divine, contact that merited temporary separation from mundane affairs).  At the conclusion of this period, the mother was required to make an offering to the Lord, and if her child happened to be a firstborn son, she was also required to “ransom” that child back from the Lord (Yahweh had claimed all of Israel’s firstborn sons as his own ever since the first Passover, when he slew Egypt’s firstborn sons in order to free his people from slavery).  Mary conscientiously fulfilled these requirements, even though her pregnancy and her son were completely unique. She would have been justified in excepting herself from such rubrics, seeing as her son was God himself, but she didn’t; she followed the normal laws, seeing in them the will of God.

Now just reflect for a moment on what this tells us about her character.  Among other things, it shows that she was willing to humbly do God’s will.  She didn’t consider herself “above” the burdensome, inconvenient duties that God assigned to her.  Now, translate that kind of humility into your own situation as a college student: do you humbly accept the duties of your state in life?  Are you capable of disciplining yourself so as to fulfill your academic responsibilities conscientiously and to the very best of your ability, or do you try to cut corners, make exceptions, and squeak by?  It is a point you should examine together with our Lord in prayer because I detect a bit of self-pity in your latest complaints as if you resented God for not making things easier. If you trust him, you will obey him, just as Mary did, even in the little things.  Then you will soon discover the joys that come along with being a mature, virtuous Christian. Count on my prayers.

Yours sincerely, Uncle Eddy

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