On February 2—forty days after Christmas—the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, calling to mind the Holy Family’s observance of the Mosaic Law (see Leviticus 12:1–8). Mary comes to the Temple forty days after giving birth to Jesus, and she and Joseph offer for her purification a sacrifice of two turtledoves, the offering prescribed for the poor. In addition, Mary and Joseph present and dedicate Jesus to God, as he is Mary’s firstborn Son (see Exodus 13:2–16).
Every year, I find myself struggling with Christmas gift shopping. I want to be generous, I like to give people gifts, but I don’t want to give in to the temptation of consumerism that plagues us during the holidays.
Like the majority of Thanksgivings since I moved from the east coast to South Bend for grad school, I will be away from my family. In response to my absence, I will once again call home, be placed on speaker phone and passed around the table while I do my best to hear the person on the line. My initial plea, “No, not speaker phone,” is most often lost in the shuffle.
In the sacrament of baptism, which we recall at Easter, each of us received both a new identity as a child of God and a vocation to live a life transformed by our encounter with the Lord. We received these gifts not only for our own benefit, but also for the benefit of others.