(Presentation of Jesus: Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40)
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes that Jesus “had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way.” There is a text in Galatians 4:4-5 that points in the same direction: Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law.”
The Gospel account of the presentation of Jesus in the temple refers twice to the Law, at the beginning and near the end. The legal requirement Joseph and Mary were fulfilling is found in Exodus 13: “Consecrate to me every firstborn; whatever opens the womb among the Israelites, whether of human being or beast, belongs to me.” In the case of smaller animals, the firstborn was to be slaughtered as a sacrifice; a donkey could be ransomed with a sheep.
The text adds: “Every human firstborn of your sons you must ransom.” Remember that Moses was leading God’s people to Canaan, a land where child sacrifice was not unheard of. Here God expressly forbids that practice.
There is a delicate irony here. Jesus, who came to ransom us, first had to be ransomed himself! The Redeemer had to be redeemed—bought and paid for, so to speak— “to ransom those under the law,” as quoted above.
This has consequences in our life of faith. La Salette can help us understand them.
We have to recognize the gift of redemption that has been won for us. The Beautiful Lady indicates means for achieving that goal: prayer, the Eucharist, penance, respect for the Lord’s Name and the Lord’s Day.
Then we need to recognize our own need of redemption. Mary uses the term “submit.” This will involve purification, a sometimes painful process. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read: “Jesus himself was tested through what he suffered.” And old Simeon told Mary in the temple, “you yourself a sword will pierce.” (“How long a time I have suffered for you,” she said at La Salette.)
Finally, like Mary, we must welcome the Redeemer into our life. We can make ours the words of today’s Psalm, expressing the desire “that the king of glory may come in!”