For Jewish people at the time Jesus was born a woman’s first son was seen as belonging to God. When that boy was forty days old, custom demanded that the boy be brought to the Temple to be given to God. The young couple would then buy their son back at the cost of two doves.
We can picture Mary and Joseph fixing the baby up to show off his loveliness. I can also picture the way the priest might have gone routinely taking the child for God, then turning him back when the couple handed over the doves. I suppose priests of today, handling the body of Christ are at times unaware of whom they are holding.
The baby Jesus went unnoticed by the crowd in the temple court, but then two old people who came daily to the temple recognized their baby Messiah. It should heighten our respect for the old people who come to church every day.
Our second reading today tells us that the Savior had to share in our flesh and blood so that he might fully represent us in atoning for our sins. It is necessary that we see that baby as crying and as having nappies that had to be changed. If he were not as human as we are, the way he endured the pain and the shame of his crucifixion would have been just an empty show.
The first heresy that the Apostles warned against in their letters was called Docetism. It comes from dokein, the Greek word for a mirage. The Docetists were good-hearted people, who out of respect for Jesus, liked picturing him without the kind of body functions we don’t show off in public.
Looking at that forty-day-old baby we should recall what was written in the Letter to the Hebrews. “We do not have a high priest whom is unable to sympathize with was, for he was tested in every way that we are.”