The law of God, given by Moses to the Jews, ordained that a woman, after child-birth, should continue for a certain time in a state which that law calls unclean, during which she was not to appear in public, nor presume to touch any thing consecrated to God. This term was of forty days upon the birth of a son, and double that time for a daughter. On the expiration of the term, the mother was to bring to the door of the tabernacle, or temple, a lamb and a young pigeon, or turtle-dove, as an offering to God. These being sacrificed to Almighty God by the priest, the woman was cleansed of the legal impurity and reinstated in her former privileges.
Our Saviour having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and His blessed Mother remaining always a spotless virgin, it is evident that she did not come under the law; but as the world was, as yet, ignorant of her miraculous conception, she submitted with great punctuality and exactness to every humbling circumstance which the law required.
Besides the law which obliged the mother to purify herself, there was another which ordered that the first-born son should be offered to God.
Mary complies exactly with all these ordinances. . . . She waits for the priest at the gate of the temple, makes her offerings of thanksgiving and expiation, presents her Divine Son by the hands of the priest to his eternal Father, with the most profound humility, adoration, and thanksgiving, . . . and receives Him back again as a sacred charge committed to her special care.
The ceremony of this day was closed by a third mystery — the meeting in the temple of the holy persons, Simeon and Anne. . . . Holy Simeon, on that occasion, received into his arms the object of all his desires and sighs, and praised God for being blessed with the happiness of beholding the so-much-longed-for Messias. He foretold to Mary her martyrdom of sorrow, and that Jesus brought redemption to those who would accept of it.
Reflection. — Let us strive to imitate the humility of the ever-blessed Mother of God, remembering that humility is the path which leads to abiding peace, and brings us near to the consolations of God.
Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).