“And You Yourself a Sword Will Pierce”–Reflection for the Sunday Mass Readings of Feb. 2, 2014, by Cameron Daly

This reflection was taken from the Sunday Mass Readings of Feb. 2, 2014 (and was delayed as I was on vacation for a week and didn’t get around to uploading it when I got back):
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/020214.cfm

In today’s Gospel, Simeon–while prophesizing about the infant Lord Jesus–mentioned to Mary as a casual aside, “And you yourself a sword will pierce.” I can only imagine what Mary must’ve thought of that, but there still seems to be some debate over these lines according to
http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/rosary_scripture.htm
and especially http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage_print.asp?number=296501&language=en.

The line could be taken several ways. First, it could mean that her heart was going to be pierced by a sword, as she would feel the pain of watching her son suffer scourging and crucifixion. Think about that sacrifice on her part–to watch her literally perfect son die a horrible death, all for the sake of a bunch of sinners. Nobody likes to watch a loved one suffer; Jesus was not only the greatest loved one, but he was also tortured in one of the worst ways possible. She had no power to help him, but her faith in God remained strong–stronger than most anyone else could ever hope for theirs to be. I mean, how many of us wouldn’t get angry with God over such a thing? That’s one of many reasons to have reverence for the holiness of Mary.

It also reminds me of the image of the “Sacred Heart of Mary,” which shows her heart being pierced seven times–apparently attributed to seven sorrows which she suffered throughout her lifetime.

Another possibility was that Simeon was referring to the fact that Mary might act as a sword upon evil. I can’t say for certain that this is true–it seems more likely that he meant she would have a sword of evil driven through her–but it does brings up a good point.

I heard once that the Rosary is like a noose around Satan’s neck; it essentially chokes him. It makes sense, since he hates Mary–probably for the graces that she was given, and for the fact that she brought Jesus into the world.

The Rosary is powerful: it invokes the intervention and prayers of God’s own Mother, who–thanks to God’s love for her purity–reigns as Queen over all Creation. She’s almost like a go-between between us and God. Being our caring Mother (ever since Jesus gave her to us through John), she wants what’s best for us; and since she has found the very greatest favor with God (she’s done a better job of obeying Him than we ever will), it makes sense that her prayers would be answered if anyone’s were. To the best of my knowledge, no one else has ever had faith in God equal to hers; and as Jesus said, we should pray as if we have already received what we are asking for–demonstrating our faith. She’s the best one to ask to pray for our needs.

Mary also has the power of Divine Intervention–and while I’m not entirely sure how that works, it has proven itself on several occasions throughout history, between miracles and apparitions.

Whatever exactly that line in today’s Gospel means, is signifies that there is indeed something special about Mary; most likely that something meaningful–though sad–would happen to her. We should never forget that she is the purest of all humankind; and we should ask her to guide us, so that we, too, may find favor with the Lord. Her love and her prayers provide true beacons of hope for us.

As it said in the Second Reading, “…and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.” Mary had no reason whatsoever to fear death; let us pray that we may imitate her faith, so that we also should have no need to fear death, but instead that we may one day also be pure in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“And coming to her, he said “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”–Angel Gabriel (Lk 1:28)

by Cameron Daly

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