Simeon’s Sorrowful Prophecy

Maria Mutter Gottes

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

#trcot #tcot #The Presentation #Seven Sorrows #Mary

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The Presentation Reimagined

Bruges - Virgin of sorrows in St. Salvator's church
BRUGES, BELGIUM – JUNE 12, 2014: The virgin of sorrows on the windowpane in St. Salvator’s Cathedral (Salvatorskerk) by stained glass artist Samuel Coucke (1833 – 1899) with Simeon and prophet Ann,

The Presentation is one of the joyful mysteries and I have imagined it many times over the years.  Mary proudly carrying her beautiful son while Joseph carried the two turtledoves.  They gave the doves to Simeon the priest who after offering the doves took the child in his arms and praised God.  Anna, an aged widow, nearby comes to see the baby as well.

Wonderful, beautiful, except it didn’t happen that way.  Mary and Anna  would not have been allowed any further than the Court of the Women. This was not just for women only, any Jew could come there, but  the women could proceed no further.

The Temple treasury was also in the Court of the Women.  Thirteen chests also called trumpets for their shape, lined the walls.  They were narrow at the top and large at the bottom.  Each trumpet was labeled for its purpose.  Trumpet Three was for people who wanted to offer turtledoves.  Mary and Joseph would have put a couple of coins in the trumpet.  Sometime later, someone would have come and gathered the money from the trumpet and figured out how many turtledoves the priests had to offer.  If not for Simeon and Anna, it would have been a very impersonal experience.

We don’t really know much about Simeon. He is just called a man in Jerusalem, it doesn’t specify a priest.  God truly must have inspired him to go when he did.  He saw that couple out of the crowd dropping a couple of coins into Trumpet Three and he knew this child was the One! He then gave a remarkable prophecy. First thanking God for allowing him to see the Messiah that he had waited so long for, then he prophesied regarding the future suffering of Jesus and Mary.  I’ve heard it called the second Annunciation.

Both Simeon and Anna were old. I believe they represented the faithful of Israel who had grown old waiting for the Messiah.  Simeon was from Jerusalem which at one point had been the capital of Judah the Southern Kingdom.  Anna was from the tribe of Asher which was the northernmost tribe of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. That descendant of that tribe had remained faithful speaks of a remarkable faith lineage.

To begin with after Solomon, the Northern Kingdom separated from the Southern Kingdom. They no longer worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem their king had set up alternative altars.  Anna’s ancestors would have had to make the long trip to that Temple in defiance of the religious practices of their own tribes and country.  This occurred about 930 years before Christ.

Then around 721 BC, her ancestors were conquered by the Assyrians and deported to other countries.  Later the southern kingdom of Judah was also sent into exile to Babylon and the Temple was destroyed.  It would not be until 538 BC that the Israelites were even given a homeland again and that was for the Jews from Judah.

So her ancestors would had to have kept the faith for at least two hundred years in a foreign land separated from the Temple and worship before they would have had even an outside chance of returning. Most people would have been assimilated into the culture. The religion of their ancestors would have been an ancient myth if it had been passed down at all.  Anna represented the faithful of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who had contended for their faith for over 900 years.

The Messiah had come for both of them.  Their hearts are what picked the Holy Family out from the crowd. They knew the One that they had been waiting for.

#trcot, #tcot, #Simeon #Anna #Presentation