Lk 2:21-24 “Presenting Jesus in the temple for circumcision… Mary and Joseph offer a pair of doves or two young pigeons for Mary’s purification according to the Law (Lev 12:8). According to Leviticus, the preferred offering was a young lamb… Evidently, Mary and Joseph do not have enough money to buy the lamb and have to settle for the more economical animals.”
I was pleased when I came across an icon of the circumcision that actually looked remotely accurate compared to the Gospel of Luke, rather than depicting a whole host of people in a richly decorated environment. I had not realised until I came across the above extract from James Arlandon’s Women, class, and society in early Christianity (Hendrickson Publishers, 1997, p.141) that their status in society is again emphasised in this passage – they could not afford to give a lamb for the circumcision of the one we would call the Son of God.
I think it can be easy to forget the reality of some of the circumstances Jesus was in; he was born in a stable amidst the muck of the animals; he chose to ride a donkey rather than something more readily-regarded as noble, he died crucified and naked rather than take up a physical sword.
I have been studying the Gospel of Luke quite a lot recently, and have seen that Luke often portrays Jesus as a friend of the poor and the lowly. His recording of the circumcision has renewed this passage’s significance for me, and so I share it with you.