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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

A Sword Shall Pierce Thy Heart

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

A Meditation upon St. Luke 2:34-35

And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.


Ever since that very first Passover, God demanded that every first-born child of Israel be consecrated to Him. Each Jewish family had to buy back or redeem their sons from God (Numbers 18:15-16). They were required to make a sacrifice of ritual purification through the offering of a lamb and a turtledove. Or, if the family was poor, as Luke records, two turtledoves, could be substituted. It is this ritual Mary and Joseph bring the baby Jesus to the Temple to consecrate Him to the Lord. Jesus was not any son. He was Messiah. He was Son of God. How could they buy him back?


Once again we see the utter obedience of the Holy Family: first, in Mary's assent to the Angel, and later in Joseph's assent to God in taking Mary as his wife. Now we see their obedience in offering Jesus to the Lord, and in making a further sacrifice for Mary’s purification that wasn't needed by Mary except "to fulfil all righteousness."


Mary, who is the Immaculate Conception, was a virgin before, during and after the birth of Christ. She is ever a virgin and she did not need to be purified. Nevertheless she was obedient to the command of the Mosacic Law, and submitted to it in humility. What an example to us in our moments of pride! Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said: 

"It was this humble submission to the Laws of God that made possible Mary's next act of mediation, as she presented the Christ to Simeon and Anna in the temple. And as Simeon's words reveal, this Presentation included with it the promise of the Cross, as Christ would 'be a sign to be opposed.'" 


Just as Jesus would be a sign that was contradicted, Simeon warned Mary that her involvement in Redemption, her role in mediating Christ to the world, would involve her own suffering, just as it did Christ's. "And a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Lk 2:35). In fact, the sword in Mary's heart and the spear in Jesus' heart seem to be inseparable, together for the same purpose: the revealing of men's hearts.

Mary's suffering is intimately united to Christ's, and thus bound up in a subordinate way to our Salvation. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said: 

"She was told that He would be rejected by the world, and with His Crucifixion there would be her transfixion. As the Child willed the Cross for Himself, so He willed the Sword of Sorrow for her. If He chose to be a Man of Sorrows, He also chose her to be a Mother of Sorrows!"


Dear People of God, what is faith? Faith is that two-edged sword that pierces and divides. You see, if we have true faith in Jesus Christ, if we have true devotion of Mary, the sword of faith will divide us from whatever is unholy and untrue. For you cannot be a Child of Mary and cling to sin.


Mary was the best disciple. She had that true Christian Faith that penetrates to the depths of the heart. Her soul was pierced but her faith endured. In this life many swords will pierce us. We will have many disappointments, failures, and disasters. How can we endure if we don’t cling to Mary? Let us take recourse to our Mother of Sorrows. Let us be confident that she will lead us deeper into the mystery of love and forgiveness found in the tender Heart of the Babe of Bethlehem.





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