Today's Gospel: Luke 2:22-35
Optional Memorial of Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr
The story of the Presentation of Jesus as an infant is one that is bittersweet. The hope of Simeon – a holy man who awaited the birth of a Savior – and the hope of all humanity are restored as St. Joseph and Our Lady obediently present Jesus in the temple for His blessing into the family of God. Yet Our Lady entered the temple with great joy and exited with a prophecy that was sure to haunt her as her child, her beloved son who was God Incarnate, grew from infancy to manhood.
Don’t all mothers in some way relate to this prophecy? We birth our children and welcome them with gratitude and joy; yet we soon discover the cross of bearing our children’s souls on our own. Our hearts are united with theirs, impossible to separate, as Our Lady’s heart was infused with that of her Son’s. As mothers, we watch our children laugh and play, but we also see them struggle and suffer. When they do, we suffer with them. This is what it means for our hearts to be pierced as a sword, and each time we experience this, we can turn to the generous empathy of Our Lady and beg for her intercession.
The Christmas season is a perfect time to reflect upon the gift of hope and light in the form of God-made-man, and it’s equally fitting to remember that every transition and milestone in our lives will be full of joy mingled with sorrow. This is the beauty and mystery of the Incarnation, which we continue to celebrate within this Octave of Christmas.
The gift of Jesus is truly a sign of contradiction because He is Love Incarnate, which draws new life out of inevitable death. We, too, must remember to continue to pray for the grace to die to ourselves – our comforts, our selfishness, our vices – in order that Love Himself may prevail in our hearts and our lives.
How have I experienced circumstances in my life that were bittersweet, involving sorrow mixed with joy? Do I thank God for both the sufferings and blessings in my life? Do I see all that happens as part of God’s loving provision for me? How can I grow in this?
Jesus, I unite my heart with yours and with the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your mother. I know that what you experienced, so did she, and vice versa. I long to unite my heart with yours and to know how to love as you did – suffering the ultimate humiliation by taking my form and yet persevering to the end so that I might reign in Heaven with you someday. I pray that every effort of my day and my life might ultimately lead me closer to you. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing
About the Author
Jeannie Ewing believes the world ignores and rejects the value of the Cross. She writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. As a disability advocate, Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters and is the author of From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore , and Waiting with Purpose. Jeannie is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic magazines. She, her husband, and three daughters live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website lovealonecreates.com.