The Presentation of the Lord: The sword of pain

February 2, 2020.

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Lc 2, 34-35)

In the midst of the feast, closely intertwined to the Presentation of the Child at the Temple, a tragic warning emerges. Simeon, who has exalted the child Jesus and has said things that have confirmed Mary’s faith in the promise made by the Angel Gabriel, concludes by saying: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too”. It was like a thunderbolt that crosses the blue sky and announced the coming of the storm.

How did Mary react? What did she do? She was surely worried, but was she surprised? I don’t believe so. Could she expect her Son to be the Messiah and not to be overcome with trials and tribulations? Perhaps she did not expect things to end as they did, with her son’s death on the cross. However, for her Son – and for herself – she most surely expected a difficult life of selflessness and sacrifice, more than triumphs and riches. When a few months back she had said “yes” to God through the angel, she had consecrated herself to that, to doing the Lord’s will, like a slave, and not to be the triumphant “queen-mother” surrounded by servants who served her. Therefore, that splash of cold water received by the Sacred Family from the words of the prophet Simeon on that day served for the Virgin to again say “yes” to God. I am here and I will be here; in good times and in bad. For love, only for love, all for love”. Mary did not flee and abandon the Child. Quite on the contrary: she held him close to her chest and said: “You have a Father in Heaven and a Mother on Earth. Do not be afraid”.

Intention: Do not fear the problems that may come upon us because we are following the Lord. He will give us the strength to face them. Imitate Mary in our willingness to always do God’s divine will.

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