November 20, 2022
Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
We have a couple options today for Our Lady of Sorrows. One of these is Jesus hanging on the Cross and looking down at His Mother and telling His Mother that John was her son and then telling John, “Behold your Mother”. And I think that’s very poignant. Obviously that could be a very difficult thing for Mary to have to experience. But she had time. She had 30 something years to be prepared for the death of Jesus. She knew it was coming. Obviously, the graphic way in which He died was not something that any mother would want to see, but at least she had time to prepare.
So, instead, I chose the Gospel from Luke to read today and the reason I did that is because at the beginning, and imagine this teenage Mother being told what she hears today – what’s going to be her future. And trying to figure out, but at the same time, in her heart, knowing that the future of her child is not going to be what she would want – to be able to live to an old age and her Son be there to take care of her.
And so, again, whenever Simeon comes forward, what does he do? The first thing that he does is he reaches out and he takes the baby, and he holds that babe in his arms. In the temple, that is a symbol of the sacrifice. That the priest or the elder would always come forward and take whatever the sacrifice was into their arms and they’d go and perform the sacrifice. So, here’s Simeon taking this baby into his arms – that symbol, once again, of the sacrifice that Jesus is going to make for us.
And then he tells her that the Babe – He is going to be the reason for the fall and the rise of many in Israel. Notice he starts out with fall because who’s going to fall? Those who think that they’re up here – those who think that they’re leaders. Jesus is going to be the reason King Herod, and everybody is going to end up falling, and he’s going to raise up people like you and me. People who have no privilege, people who have no riches or anything else. It’s going to be a contradiction. He is the King of all things – the King of the Universe! And yet, He’s raised in poverty.
And then, if you remember, in Genesis Chapter 3, whenever Adam and Eve are thrown out of the Garden, what happens? What are we told? That there are angels who are placed at the gate of the Garden of Eden, and they have a fiery sword. And He says today that Mary’s soul will be pierced by a sword. That sword is double-edged. Yes, it is guarding the gate so that – you’ll recall because of what our first parents did, we can’t get back to live with God until that sword is taken away. That fiery sword has to be extinguished and moved out of the way. Then we can once again be with God. The problem is that something has to happen. And to do that, this double-edged sword that is going to be piercing Mary’s soul is that sword because it doesn’t get removed until Jesus sacrifices Himself. And that’s why the sword is removed.
So, all of this stuff is happening to this teenage girl, this teenage mother that’s coming at the time to present her infant babe at the table hears all of this prophesy. Now imagine, any mother would be devastated to hear this news. But imagine you’re only a teenager – maybe 15 years old – and this prophesy is given to you about your child.
We’re lucky. We aren’t asked to make the sacrifices that Mary had to make. That Joseph – when Gabriel came to Joseph and said, “Don’t be afraid to bring her into your home.” Joseph sacrificed. But the greatest sacrifice was Jesus, when He had done absolutely nothing wrong, that He was willing to go and lay down on that Cross and have those nails driven into His hands and into His feet, and suffer, not for anything that He did, but for what we did. So, we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows today. And you can look at this in different ways. You can look at it from the beginning, which is where I chose to go, or you can look at it there at the ending when He’s hanging on that Cross and He looks down and He says, “Son, behold your mother. Mother behold your son.” We all became the children at that time of the Blessed Virgin, who sacrificed her life to raise the Sacrifice for all our lives.