On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel has given him before he was conceived. When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:21-24)
It’s New Year’s Day. Still celebrating Jesus, I’m savoring the Christmas decorations. But it wasn’t always that way. When I had three young children and worked full time, the tree came down on New Year’s Day or the Saturday afterward. I was into my New Year’s resolutions of being more organized, being healthier, being more educated, and/or being a better wife and mother. They’re all noble resolutions, but, unfortunately, I only included Jesus in the latter.
Let’s travel back in time to New Year’s Day after Jesus was born. Mary and Joseph are still celebrating Jesus’ birth, excitedly preparing for Jesus’ bris, circumcision, and naming which will happen tomorrow. Then, about February 1 they’ll travel to Jerusalem (only 6.4 miles from Bethlehem) because on February 2, Mary will participate in purification rites for a woman required by Jewish Law forty days after giving birth (Leviticus 12:2, 4a). At the same time, Jesus will be presented (consecrated) to the Lord at the temple because every firstborn Jewish male belongs to God. (Exodus 12:2)
It seems presenting a firstborn male to God is of more importance than cleansing the mother. Yet, the sacrifice mentioned, a pair of doves or two young pigeons, was not for presenting Jesus to God but for the purification of Mary. In fact, it was the offering a poor woman made due to the high cost of a lamb. (Leviticus 12:8)
God chose Mary to be Jesus’ birth mother not only because she was prepared, faithful, humble, and strong, but also because she was poor and obeyed his commands. God wants all of us to know that His commands to love Him, to love one another, to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to perform everything he nudges us to do are critical. He also wants us to know He measures our importance by the health of our relationship to Him, not by our wealth.
I hope you’re still celebrating Jesus’ birth with me. The magi still haven’t come with their gifts. We have more to look forward to!