Meditation: The Promise of a Sword
Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. As the firstborn son, he was dedicated in gratitude to God for the deliverance of Israel from enslavement in Egypt. They encountered an old man named Simeon who took Jesus his arms.
“Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother, Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed---and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Lk 2:28, 34, 35)
Simeon spoke of her soul being pierced. The sword would also enter her heart. All through Jesus’ ministry up to the time his heart was pierced with a lance, Mary’s heart was wounded by the injuries inflicted on her Son.
It is the greatest paradox of all human history that when God came to dwell among us, first appearing as an infant and later offering his love from a human heart full of compassion, many people would reject him. It is a paradox because every human being wants to be loved. However, many insist on being loved solely on their own terms. The Sacred Heart of Jesus insists on loving on God’s terms, which require humility and openness to the divine will.
Mary would be caught up in the conflict between the merciful outreach of her Son and the hatred of those who were not willing to accept him. It is likely that Mary would have suspected as much. She knew that many of the prophets had been attacked and killed. She could expect that the Messiah would arouse strong reactions among her people. Simeon’s words affirmed what she had likely suspected at the beginning when she gave her consent to Gabriel and accepted her vocation as mother of the Messiah.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart has guided many young men or women into their vocations of service to the Sacred Heart and his saving mission. Some are called to fulfill their baptismal mission as priests or religious. Some are called to fulfill their baptismal mission as priests or religious. Others are called to be spouses and parents. Most have only an obscure idea of the difficulties of their calling. From its beginning, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart has them in her care to prepare them to be faithful to Jesus and their part in his work of love in the world, whatever the later cost.
Mary’s particular sorrow arose from the rejection of her Son by others. There are also sorrows which have their root in the infidelity of those we love. Many pastors of a parish whose people appear to have little faith and many parents of children who have rejected their religious upbringing come to appreciate the sword which pierced the soul and the heart of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, you were willing to bear Jesus, rear him and later follow him in his difficult and painful journey of love for humankind. When you dedicated him in the temple, you also dedicated yourself to be faithful to your part in his saving mission.
There are days when I may weaken and feel overwhelmed by the challenges of my calling as a priest, a religious, a spouse or a parent. Be especially attentive to me on those days, as you were once attentive to what was happening to your Son. He also had many difficult days before his final passion and death. Then you could not intervene on his behalf, but now you can be my support.
I place all of those near and dear to me in your loving care, trusting that you will lead them to the compassionate love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I trust that you will lead me closer to him.