“’Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When any of you brings an offering to the Lord from the livestock, you may bring your offering from the herd or the flock.’” (Leviticus 1:2)
God gave Moses specific instructions about burnt offerings. People could choose whether they would give a bull (from the herd) or a sheep (from the flock). The Lord then laid out the entire procedure in detail to be followed.
Interestingly, after all these instructions a “third option” from the Lord emerged. “If his gift to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, he is to present his offering from the turtledoves or young pigeons.” Then followed the procedural instructions for birds.
So, why is this of interest?
Not everyone had a herd or a flock. But anyone could come up with a pair of turtledoves or pigeons. This means that no one was to be excluded from worship because they did not have enough money for an offering. Anyone could go out and catch a couple of birds, plus, since they were so abundant they cost almost nothing. This opened the door for all to participate, even the poorest of the poor. This was thus God’s compassionate embrace of the poor.
Guess who needed this option? Joseph and Mary.
Thank You, Lord, that no detail ever escapes Your notice. Your constant care for us is a constant comfort. Amen.