The Presentation of Jesus, The Purification of Mary

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2 February 2020

That Mary brought only “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” to be offered in the temple indicates their state of poverty. They were not rich.
It also signifies that the Lamb of God was already there.

Presentation of Christ in the Temple - Sherbrooke Missal
Presentation of Christ at the Temple – Sherbrooke Missal

Luke 2:22-24 (KJV) – And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
– See Leviticus 12:8 for this in the law of Moses

Exodus 13:1-2 (KJV) – And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

Now this commandment of the law seems to have had its fulfilment in the incarnate God, in a very remarkable and peculiar manner. For He alone, ineffably conceived and incomprehensibly brought forth, opened the virgin’s womb, till then unopened by marriage, and after this birth miraculously retaining the seal of chastity.
– St Gregory of Nyssa, 335-395 AD, Hom de occursu Domini (St Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, vol 3, Commentary on St Luke Chapter 2)

Presentation of Christ in the Temple - Russian Icon
Presentation of Christ in the Temple – Russian Icon

For no union with man disclosed the secrets of the virgin’s womb, but the Holy Spirit infused the immaculate seed into an inviolate womb. He then who sanctified another womb in order that a prophet should be born, He it is who has opened the womb of His own mother, that the Immaculate should come forth. By the words opening the womb, he speaks of birth after the usual manner, not that the sacred abode of the virgin’s womb, which our Lord in entering sanctified, should now be thought by His proceeding forth from it to be deprived of its virginity.
– St Ambrose of Milan, 340-397 AD (St Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, vol 3, Commentary on St Luke Chapter 2)

The Son of God became Son of man, born in time in the manner of a man, opening his mother’s womb to birth and, through God’s power, not dissolving his mother’s virginity.
– Pope St Hormisdas, papacy 514-523 AD (DS 368)

In a brief formula, the Church traditionally presents Mary as “virgin before, during and after giving birth“, affirming, by indicating these three moments, that she never ceased to be a virgin.
Of the three, the affirmation of her virginity “before giving birth” is, undoubtedly, the most important, because it refers to Jesus’ conception and directly touches the very mystery of the Incarnation. From the beginning it has been constantly present in the Church’s belief.
Her virginity “during and after giving birth”, although implicit in the title virgin already attributed to Mary from the Church’s earliest days, became the object of deep doctrinal study since some began explicitly to cast doubts on it. Pope St Hormisdas explains that “the Son of God became Son of man, born in time in the manner of a man, opening his mother’s womb to birth [cf. Lk 2:23] and, through God’s power, not dissolving his mother’s virginity” (DS 368). This doctrine was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which states that the firstborn Son of Mary did not diminish his Mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it (Lumen gentium, n. 57).
– Pope St John Paul II, General Audience, August 28, 1996

Ezekiel 44:1-3 (KJV) – Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said the Lord unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.

Presentation of Christ in the Temple - Menologion of Basil
Presentation of Christ in the Temple – Menologion of Basil

Further reading:

The Presentation of our Lord in the Temple – Good Shepherd Orthodox Church

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