THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD

He took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,

for my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, (Luke 2)

 

“When the days of the mother’s purification were expired,” a sacrifice was to be offered either “for a son or for a daughter,” as laid down Lev. 12:6. And this sacrifice was for the expiration of the sin in which the child was conceived and born; and also for a certain consecration of the child, because it was then presented in the Temple for the first time. Wherefore one offering was made as a holocaust and another for sin. The other was a special precept in the law concerning the first-born of “both man and beast”: for the Lord claimed for Himself all the first-born in Israel, because, in order to deliver the Israelites, He “slew every first-born in the land of Egypt, both men and cattle” (Ex. 12:12,13,29), the first-born of Israel being saved; which law is set down Ex. 13. Here also was Christ foreshadowed, who is “the First-born amongst many brethren” (Rm 8,29).Therefore, since Christ was born of a woman and was her first-born, and since He wished to be “made under the Law,” the Evangelist Luke shows that both these precepts were fulfilled in His regard. First, as to that which concerns the first-born, when he says (Lc 2,22,23): “They carried Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord: as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.'” Secondly, as to the general precept which concerned all, when he says (Lc 2,24): “And to offer a sacrifice according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.” (III 743)

As the Son of God “became man, and was circumcised in the flesh, not for His own sake, but that He might make us to be God’s through grace, and that we might be circumcised in the spirit; so, again, for our sake He was presented to the Lord, that we may learn to offer ourselves to God” [*Athanasius, on Lk. 2:23]. And this was done after His circumcision, in order to show that “no one who is not circumcised from vice is worthy of Divine regard” [*Bede, on Lk. 2:23].

33 For this very reason He wished the legal victims to be offered for Him who was the true Victim, in order that the figure might be united to and confirmed by the reality, against those who denied that in the Gospel Christ preached the God of the Law. “For we must not think,” says Origen (Hom. xiv in Lc ) “that the good God subjected His Son to the enemy’s law, which He Himself had not given.” (III 743)

The law of Lev. 12:6,[8] “commanded those who could, to offer, for a son or a daughter, a lamb and also a turtle dove or a pigeon: but those who were unable to offer a lamb were commanded to offer two turtle doves or two young pigeons” [*Bede, Hom. xv in Purif.]. “And so the Lord, who, ‘being rich, became poor for our [Vulg.: ‘your’] sakes, that through His poverty we [you] might be rich,” as is written 2 Cor. 8:9, “wished the poor man’s victim to be offered for Him” just as in His birth He was “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger” [*Bede on Lk. 1]. Nevertheless, these birds have a figurative sense. For the turtle dove, being a loquacious bird, represents the preaching and confession of faith; and because it is a chaste animal, it signifies chastity; and being a solitary animal, it signifies contemplation. The pigeon is a gentle and simple animal, and therefore signifies gentleness and simplicity. It is also a gregarious animal; wherefore it signifies the active life. Consequently this sacrifice signified the perfection of Christ and His members. Again, “both these animals, by the plaintiveness of their song, represented the mourning of the saints in this life: but the turtle dove, being solitary, signifies the tears of prayer; whereas the pigeon, being gregarious, signifies the public prayers of the Church” [*Bede, Hom. xv in Purif.]. Lastly, two of each of these animals are offered, to show that holiness should be not only in the soul, but also in the body. (III 743)

Although the Blessed Virgin had no uncleanness, yet she wished to fulfill the observance of purification, not because she needed it, but on account of the precept of the Law. Thus the Evangelist says pointedly that the days of her purification “according to the Law” were accomplished; for she needed no purification in herself.

32 Moses seems to have chosen his words in order to exclude uncleanness from the Mother of God, who was with child “without receiving seed.” It is therefore clear that she was not bound to fulfill that precept, but fulfilled the observance of purification of her own accord,  ( Thomas Aquino, Suma III 744)

 

Sr. Teresa

About Sr. Teresa

I am a Capuchin poor Clare sister since 1983.