Guest post by T. Ciatoris
In what follows, I wish to address both Mary’s purification and Jesus’ presentation at the Temple, then suggest a way of coordinating the two that may, I hope, elicit beneficial meditation on this glorious Feast of the Holy Catholic Church (and, indeed, each time we pray the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary).
First, Mary’s purification: why would the Mother of God stand in need of purification? How could conceiving and bearing the spotless Lamb of God render her unclean?
At Summa theologiae III.37.4 ad 2, St. Thomas Aquinas addresses this concern by attending closely to the biblical text of Leviticus 12:2, which, along with v. 4, specifies the period of post-partum purification:
Moses seems to have chosen his words in order to exclude uncleanness from the Mother of God, who was with child “without receiving seed.” It is therefore clear that she was not bound to fulfil that precept, but fulfilled the observance of purification of her own accord, as stated above.
The end of Thomas’s response refers to the corpus of the same article, where he writes,
I answer that, As the fulness of grace flowed from Christ on to His Mother, so it was becoming that the mother should be like her Son in humility: for “God giveth grace to the humble,” as is written in James 4:6. And therefore, just as Christ, though not subject to the Law, wished, nevertheless, to submit to circumcision and the other burdens of the Law, in order to give an example of humility and obedience; and in order to show His approval of the Law; and, again, in order to take away from the Jews an excuse for calumniating Him: for the same reasons He wished His Mother also to fulfil the prescriptions of the Law, to which, nevertheless, she was not subject.
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