Mary and Joseph brought the forty-day-old Jesus to the Temple. Devout Jews, they were participating in spiritual practices dictated by the Law. And while Mary and Joseph go to the Temple together, the laws drawing them there required different but related practices from them.
|Xu Beihong’s “Awaiting the Deliverer”|
She wouldn’t have undergone ritual purification in hopes of warding off God’s wrath or winning long-withheld approval. She already knew that God loved her because of who God is, not because of what she might accomplish. She also knew that God’s love for her is unwavering and is going to do something remarkable in this world through her.
|Andre Derain’s “Bathing Women”|
Mary was not adding a bit of spiritual lipstick and slipping into some moral Spanx in at desperate attempt to make herself presentable to God. She was handing her unpresentable self to God: windblown hair, food in her teeth, wrinkled dress, and maybe a little gamey under the armpits.
|Tomas Moran’s “The Sacrifice of Isaac”|
But the message imbedded in the ransom of the first-born tells us exactly the opposite. God loves us unflinchingly, even when it costs him dearly. Especially when it costs him dearly.
|Paula Modersohn-Becker’s “The Good Samaritan”|
For God, no one is worth less than anyone else. No one is worth more than anyone else. He loves each of us infinitely. And God wants us to know this to the very marrow of our being. He created us so that our deepest happiness depends upon it.
to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, *