Reflection on the Gospel-Feast of the Presentation (Luke 2:22-40)

The opening verses of today’s gospel reading have often been a source of confusion with the result that the focus has sometimes been on the “purification” of Mary rather than on the presentation of the child. Luke implies that both Mary and Joseph come to the temple to be purified, although purification after childbirth applied only to women and not to their husbands (Leviticus 12). Vestiges of the Jewish purification ritual survived until recently in the practice of “churching” mothers and blessing their children.