Reflection taken from Christ in His Mysteries, by Blessed Columba Marmion:
[Mary] is intimately associated with Jesus in the work of our redemption…
When He was forty days old, the Virgin associated Him with the work of our salvation more directly and deeply still, by presenting Him in the Temple. She it is who was the first to offer up her Divine Son to the Father. After the Oblation of Himself that Jesus, Supreme High Priest, made at the very moment of the Incarnation, and which He completed on Calvary, Mary’s offering is the most perfect. It is in a different category to all the priestly acts of men; it surpasses them even, because Mary is the mother of Christ, whereas men are only His ministers.
Let us contemplate Mary in that solemn act of the Presentation of her Son in the Temple at Jerusalem.
All the magnificent and minute ceremonial of the Old Testament converged on Christ; all of it was obscure symbol that was to find its complete reality in the New Covenant.
As you know, among the prescribed rituals that were binding on Jewish women who had become mothers was that of presenting themselves in the Temple some weeks after childbirth. The mother was to be purified from the legal stain she, in consequence of original sin, had contracted by the birth of the child. Further, if the child was the firstborn and a male, she had to present him to the Lord to be consecrated to Him as Sovereign Master of all creation: Every firstborn male must be consecrated to the Lord. However, the child could be “bought back” by an offering, large or otherwise– a lamb or a pair of pigeons– according to the family’s financial position.
Most assuredly, these prescribed obligations did not bind either Mary or Jesus. Jesus was the supreme lawgiver of all the Jewish ritual; His childbirth had been miraculous and by a virgin; there was nothing but what was pure in His birth: the Holy One to be born of you shall be called the Son of God. Consequently, there was no need at all to consecrate Him to the Lord, seeing that He was God’s own Son; and there was no need for any purification of her who had conceived through the Holy Spirit and remained a virgin.
But Mary, guided in this by the same Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Jesus, was in perfect conformity with the feelings of her Son’s soul…
It was for that reason that she wished to carry out this ceremony, showing thereby how deep her submission was. Therefore, with Joseph her husband, she brought there Jesus, her “firstborn Son,” who would remain her only Son, but who was to become “the firstborn among many brethren” who, through grace, would resemble Him.
…On that day of the Presentation Christ entered into the Temple for the first time, and it was into His Temple that He entered…
And how does He come? In the splendor of His majesty? As Him to whom all sacrifices are alone due? No, He goes there absolutely hidden.
…But God received on that day infinitely more glory in this Temple than He had received up to then from all the sacrifices and all the holocausts of the Old Law. Why is that? Because on that day it was His Son Jesus who was offered to Him, and who Himself offered to Him an infinite homage of adoration, thanksgiving, expiation, supplication. It was a gift worthy of God. The Heavenly Father must have received with immeasurable joy this sacred offering; and the enraptured gaze of all the heavenly court been riveted upon this unique oblation. Now there was no longer a need for holocausts or the sacrifice of animals: the only Victim worthy of God had just been offered to Him.
And it was by the hands of the Virgin, of the Virgin full of grace, that this offering that was so pleasing to Him was presented. Mary’s faith was perfect. Filled with the lights of the Holy Spirit, her soul understood the worth of the offering she made to God at this time….
Never forget, either, that He whom she thus offers is her own Son, He whom she carried in her virginal and fruitful womb. What priest, what saint, has ever presented the Eucharistic oblation to God in so close a union with the Divine Victim as was the Virgin at that time?…
And see how Christ Jesus wills to associate the Virgin Mother of God with His own position as Victim, from that moment also.
That is what the old man Simeon–guided by the Holy Spirit, with whom he was filled: and the Holy Spirit was in him…And he came by inspiration of the Spirit into the temple— that is Simeon led up to…. This Child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. And your own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed. These words were a foreshadowing of Christ’s Sacrifice by the shedding of His blood on Calvary.
…Yes, she kept the memory of these words that in their mystery were so terrible to her mother’s heart. It was from that time on, and always, that her heart was pierced. But, in full accord with the feelings of the heart of her Son, Mary accepted being associated, so soon and so fully, with His sacrifice.
Later on, we shall see her completing her oblation on the hill of Golgotha, as Jesus did. We shall see her stand upright– “standing by the cross of Jesus,” Stabat mater ejus, offering her Son again, the fruit of her womb, for our salvation as, thirty-three years before, she had offered Him in the Temple at Jerusalem.
Let us thank the Virgin Mary for having presented her Divine Son for us. Let us render fervent thanksgiving to Jesus for having offered Himself to His Father for our salvation.