The Gospel of Luke 2:22-40 contains two pairs of things. The first pair is the two religious obligations fulfilled by Mary and Joseph: one for Jesus, and one for Mary. The second pair is the two oracles spoken by Simeon: one about Jesus, and one about Mary.
2 religious obligations:
- The consecration of the firstborn is based on the Book of Exodus chapter 13 verses 11-15. In commemoration of Passover, when the angel of death killed all the firstborn in Egypt but “passed over” the Israelites, every firstborn male offspring must be consecrated to the Lord. At the time of Jesus, the child needed to be brought to Jerusalem in order to be presented to the Lord.
- The purification of the mother after childbirth is based on the Book of Leviticus chapter 12 verses 1-8; it states that after a certain number of days after childbirth, the mother must be purified. She shall bring to the priest a yearling lamb for a holocaust and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. If she cannot afford a lamb, she may take two turtledoves or two pigeons, the one for a holocaust and the other for a sin offering.
What is the significance of Mary and Joseph fulfilling their religious obligations? They are a devout couple, and they fulfill their religious obligations to God. It is a matter of being just towards God that we too fulfill our religious obligations to God.
Micah 6:8: You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.
- Canticle of Simeon: Lord, now you let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)
- In the Canticle of Simeon, Simeon asks God to let him go in peace; i.e., allow him to die, because he has seen, in the child Jesus, the salvation promised by God. The child Jesus is the light waiting to be revealed to the Gentiles; but at the same time, He is also Israel’s glory because it is through Israel that God would bring forth salvation to the world.
- Simeon’s prophecy that Jesus is destined for the rise and fall of many, and that He will be a sign that will be contradicted (opposed) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
- Simeon’s prophecy also mentions a “sword that will pierce” Mary’s heart. Mary was to suffer alongside with Christ in God’s plan of salvation.
The Gospel passage from Luke shows us how closely connected Jesus and Mary are. The close connection between Jesus and His Mother Mary in the Gospels is the foundation of the unity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This unity is called the Alliance of the Two Hearts.
What is the Alliance of the Two Hearts? It is the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on First Fridays of the month and the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the First Saturdays of the month.
Why is this devotion significant?
- John 19:26-27: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
- Did Jesus simply mean: “John, take care of my mom”? If so, why didn’t Jesus just say so? Or did it have a deeper meaning? Why would Jesus entrust His mother’s care to a single apostle, when the Book of Acts tells us that Mary lived with the apostles after the Resurrection? (Acts 1:12-14)
- The deeper meaning: at the foot of the Cross, John represented the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus unites His Church with Mary. Jesus is the Head of the Church, and Mary is the Mother of the Church.
- Once we get through that hurdle, it becomes easier to accept the Marian devotion “Ad Jesum per Mariam” or “To Jesus through Mary”.
- Bernard of Clairvaux: “Commit to Mary the little you desire to offer, that the Lord receive it through her hands.” Although we can offer our prayers, sacrifices and good works directly to Christ, how much more precious would these be if we put them in Mary’s hands, and she offers them to her Son for us?
- Louis Marie de Montfort prayer to Mary: “The only grace I beg thee to obtain for me is that every day and every moment of my life I may say: Amen, so be it is all that thou didst do while on earth; Amen, so be it is all that thou art now doing in Heaven; Amen, so be it – to all that thou art doing in my soul, so that thou may fully glorify Jesus in me for time and eternity. Amen.” During her life on earth, Mary did the will of God. Now in heaven, Mary continues to do the will of God. And to those who have a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, she glorifies her Son Jesus in the hearts of the faithful, now and forever. Amen.