While the shadow of the cross is all over the Infancy narrative, it is especially strong in Simeon’s words to Mary. Here it is that she is first told of the suffering both she and Jesus will experience.
“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:35
Most people know what happened to Jesus but few of us know the Seven Sorrows of Mary. That is why she is sometimes shown with seven swords through her heart.
This prophecy at the Presentation is considered the first sorrow. Hearing that her son would be rejected and suffer was difficult. She pondered those words as He grew.
She did not have to wait long for the second sorrow. Joseph had a dream in the middle of the night telling them to flee. They escaped one of the most horrific massacres ever but at the cost of living as an exile in Egypt.
The third sorrow was when she lost the child Jesus for three days when He was twelve years old. Fulton Sheen had a wonderful sermon on Our Lady of the Empty Arms. She experienced what it was like for sinners to not have Jesus and to search for Him. Every time my autistic son has run away, I have prayed to her and the Child Jesus.
The fourth sorrow was the Way of the Cross. She saw her son struggle with the cross as he was being cursed at and jeered by the crowd. Simeon’s prophecy was becoming very real to her.
The fifth sorrow was standing at the foot of the cross for three hours as her son suffered and died. I think she stood there willing herself to be strong for His sake. So, He could have a place to gaze and see pure love staring back at Him.
The sixth sorrow was when He was taken down from the cross. Did she look at His hands and feet as she did when He was born? Did she ever so carefully remove that hated crown of thorns as if He was still capable of feeling pain? As she wrapped Him in linen cloth for His burial, did she remember wrapping Him in swaddling clothes?
The seventh sorrow was the hardest. So quickly was He taken from her. Sunset was coming and He had to be in the tomb before the Sabbath. No time for her to anoint His body, no time for mourning. Soon there was a big rock between her and her son. So much had happened in so short a period of time. How long did she stay there? Did she hug that rock like she couldn’t hug her son? Did she remember the kisses of birth as her soul was ripped asunder into a chasm of unbearable pain? How reluctantly did she leave with John?
What can I say for you, to what compare you, O Daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can restore you? Lamentations 2:13
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