Posted tagged ‘Pidyon HaBen’


February 2, 2015

“Behold,  all generations shall call me blessed.”     And so they have for nearly 2,000 years.   

mother and child
“Blessed.”    Not for her sake,  but because of her Son.

I’m a “subsequent generation”  and I’m just still learning about this beautiful woman, perfect mother. and why she is indeed blessed.  Created that way by her own Son,  her Creator and ours,  her Savior and ours.


This was a busy and significant day about 2,000 years ago.  The Christmas Family traveled one day from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, where they entered the Temple in obedience to the Law.     two doves
The Law says that there is a ceremony to be performed 40 days after a woman gives birth to a son.  This family offered two little birds for the sacrifice part of the ceremony.  Sins symbolically cleansed,  the new mother is now ritually pure, in  a way which we can scarcely comprehend today,  so prejudiced can we be against people who lived before us.   Nevertheless,  this perfect mother is now accepted as ritually pure.

pidyon haben

This Son was her firstborn child.   When a firstborn is a male,  he belongs to God the Creator,  but in a charming little ceremony, the family can “ransom back”  or “buy back”  the little child from the Temple…

This ceremony of Pidyon Haben today:

pidyon haben today

…  and so keep their little son with them, to love and raise and cherish.

On this day, about 2,000 years ago, in the Temple,  this is what the Mother,  her spouse Joseph,  and the child Jesus did.

But then:

This Child was not just any child.    He is the Son of God, who has just taken on our human nature,  and He came here on a mission.  Not to teach us.  Not to set up a religion.   Not to tell us how we should live.

He came here to die.

And the perfect love of a perfect Mother?

Upon hearing of an unspeakably horrible destiny for her Child,  she was not spared.   She was told that her sorrow would be so strong, it would be like a sword had pierced right into her heart.

Is she willing,  willing to go on with it?

As always:  “Fiat mihi,  secundum verbum tuum.”


And so today,  Christendom celebrates Candlemas.   This child is “the Light that would come to enlighten the Gentiles”  too.   It’s why candles are blessed on this day, for the spreading of this Light in ceremonies throughout the coming year.     And we turn now from Christmas thoughts  to thoughts of Mission for which the Christmas Child came.  




February 3, 2014

We celebrate a very special event today on our calendar:  and with this day we leave the season of Christmas.  We do our best to offer our prayers today with as much beauty as we can.


Beauty and order is a physical extension of our desire to offer our very best.


This “event” today is called either The Purification of Mary or The Presentation of the Child Jesus.   It is a ritual which affirms that the firstborn son of any Jewish mother belongs to God and must be presented to the Temple.   This two-fold ceremony requires a sacrifice for the ending of the new mother’s ritual and temporary separation from Religious activity;  and it requires a small (token) price to be paid to (buy back), in a sense,  the firstborn son from the Temple.

(For those who know the ceremony of  Pidyon  HaBen):

Pidyon HaBen

In summary:  the mother brings her firstborn son to the Temple and presents him to God.  

The meanings of these rituals are rich and deep, and we must take care not to reject their significance because the “language” of ritual purification and sacrifice is strange to us.  Christianity fulfills the  meaning of these rituals.   We don’t make the rules and we cannot arrogate to ourselves the right to reject them.


We know in this case the mother is Mary and she is the Mother of God, which is the same as saying “the Mother of the Son of God.”   And this Son, of God we know, has taken on our human nature.

Therefore, one of the deep mysteries of this day’s celebration is that because this Son,  Jesus, shares our human nature,  we ourselves are spiritually included in this ritual of being formally presented to God.

Are we worthy to stand in the presence of a Holy God, Good and Pure?   Not at all.

So we begin now a new and necessary portion of our calendar.  It will be time of learning from our newborn Teacher, of following and imitating our Good Shepherd, all the way through Calvary; and this can be a time of our increasing sanctification, making us ready for when we actually stand before the Holy God.

We will hear the constant invitation of Jesus to “Come.”

“Whosoever will, let him come.”

A new season begins!   This is our chance!