A sword of sorrow will pierce thy heart.
Hardly have we delved into the joys of Christmas, rejoicing with the angels, we are confronted with this painful prophecy of Simeon to Our Lady. Christmas and Presentation are both joyful mysteries, and yet they both contain pain. Mary and Joseph knew only joy on Christmas night, in spite of the discomfort of the cold and rejection. They knew only joy on the day of the Presentation, even though they hear with pain the words that announce the mysterious sufferings of the Messiah and His holy Mother.
Why will her heart be pierced, we might ask? Simeon himself tells us: “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”. It is the passion of Our Lord which will reveal the thoughts of hearts. It will divide humanity into halves: those who accept His mission and all that it entails, and those who reject it.
The Son of God, indeed, is sent as a sign of contradiction. Many will rise because of Him, but many will fall. So it was yesterday, so it is today, so it is in every generation. All of humanity is divided between those who accept Christ and those who reject Him. “He who is not with me is against me; he who does not gather with me scatters” (Mt 12:30). It is impossible to be indifferent to Christ. Either you love Him or you hate Him, if not in word, at least in deed.
There are those who reject Christ openly, who fight Him and His Church, and prove by their very deeds that they are of the devil. But there are also those who would reconcile our holy faith with the world. They would be friends of the world and friends of Christ. They would have a Christianity without cross and without suffering, a religion that would have no death and judgment, no heaven and hell, one that would only promote peaceful coexistence and social justice, one that would recognise all religions as good and of God. Such is not the faith that the Babe of Bethlehem brought into the world.
These words of Pope Paul VI are appropriate in this context: “Christ inaugurated his public mission with the joyful message: ‘The Kingdom of God is near’, but He immediately added the command: ‘Be converted and believe in the Gospel’. These words are as it were the summary of the entire Christian life. We can have access to the Kingdom of God only by the intimate transformation of our entire being, thanks to which man begins to think, to judge, to regulate his life on the example of the holiness and charity of God, made manifest in Christ. The invitation to fulfil this renewal is all the more pressing in that the Son of God is not content to exhort us, but He also gives us the example of penance: it is not for His own sin, but for the sins of others – ours – that He suffered pain. Every man who is marked with the name of Christian must renounce Himself, carry His cross, and take part in the sufferings of the Divine Master, and, thus transfigured into the image of his death he can merit the glory of the resurrection” (Paul VI, 18 February 1966).
Let us ask for the grace to have nothing to do with the religion of the day, which refuses the cross and seeks the friendship of the world. Let us console our blessed Mother on this day, and resolve to be among those who love her Divine Son to folly, who are prepared not only to have their hearts, but even their bodies transfixed for the proclamation of the truth, were it to be God’s holy will.