Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. I put up a few pictures of what I think it may have looked like.
The presentation of a new son, was mandated in the Old Testament because after the exodus God had required the firstborn son to be dedicated to Him. But since the tribe of Levi had become the priests dedicated to God, parents could “redeem” their firstborn son, “buy him back from God”, so to speak. The price of redemption was 5 shekels, about two week’s wages.
Numbers 18:15-16 The firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver.
Leviticus 12:6-7 And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female.
Mary was no more offering sacrifices for sin than Jesus was washed from sin at his baptism. It was a ritual cleanliness and was required at the birth of any child.
These are two of my favorite paintings of the Presentation. Notice in the top one that Joseph even has the two turtledoves in a cage to offer as the sacrifice. You can barely see the birds’ beak and eyes through the weaving.
At the Temple the Prophet Simeon declared Mary’s soul would also be pierced. That took place later at the crucifixion. Imagine a 15-year-old girl hearing those ominous words and trying to process that message!