Today’s Gospel: Luke 2: 22-35
We reflect today on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple as we continue our Christmas celebration; somehow the echo of Simeon’s prophecy seems fitting for such a time as this. Jesus remains a sign of contradiction even at his Presentation. A moment of joy, yet it was during His presentation that the birth of Our Lady of Sorrows occurred through Simeon’s prophecy: “You yourself a sword shall pierce.”
It is difficult for one to imagine being the recipient of such news, yet most of us who are mothers can easily relate to the prophecy ourselves. We lament over our children’s disappointments, but our hearts are pierced with sorrow when they suffer betrayal or physical affliction and perhaps mental or emotional torment. Truly, we agonize with them, as if we are birthing them all over again, and it always seems as if it is for the first time.
Our Lady of Sorrows may seem to be a distant figure as we celebrate the High Feast of Christmas, a time we anticipate in the harsh and bitter winters with great hope and joy. And so it should be, but we must not forget the reason God became man. Christ came to die for all of us, the only way to reconcile humankind to Himself after the fall of Adam and Eve.
The truth is all of life is bittersweet. As mothers, we know this well. A child is born, and we suffer in labor but rejoice gazing into those beautiful eyes for the first time. When our child is no longer an infant, we are relieved that we have no more late night awakenings but grieve over that phase of development that will never come to be again. So it is in our spiritual journey. We cannot hope without the reality that love culminates in the total offering of oneself, which is often a painful death to the ego.
Resurrection cannot occur without first the Passion, which is why our hope is not exclusive to the birth of the man-God, but rather we rejoice because He is our Savior. Our Lady knew this well. As Jesus’ mother, she was never far from Him both in heart and in presence. Because of this, she rejoiced in gratitude for the gift of her precious child while concurrently suffering her own white martyrdom – the martyrdom of the heart – that pierced her constantly with the knowledge of the terrible death He would inevitably endure.
So rejoice in your sorrows, and die to yourself when life seems grand. In this mystery, we will all journey with both Jesus and Mary this Christmas and beyond.
What are the ways my heart has been pierced? Do I take them to prayer, offering them to Jesus and Mary? Have I willingly sacrificed my desires for the sake of another person’s needs?
Dear Jesus and precious Mary, Mother of God, you journey with us from Christmas hope through Lenten purging and finally to Easter joy. Remind us that love is never one-dimensional: either full of happiness or filled with sadness. Rather, walk with us as we live the mystery that all of life has suffering mingled with joy and vice versa. May Christmas and your Paschal Mystery, Jesus, live in us today and always. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Jeannie Ewing