The Sunday Within The Octave Of Christmas The Gospel Luc. 2.v.33. Thursday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
WEYDEN, Rogier van der
St Columba Altarpiece (right panel)
GOSPEL Luke 2:33-40At that time, And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. 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." And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was far advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years: who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord: and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in him.
And a sword of sorrow shall pierce thy soul.
The sword of sorrow, which was to pierce the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary (of whom Simeon meant these words) was first of all the loosing of Christ in Jerusalem for the space of three days, in which space she sought him with much sorrow, as she testified of herself: But much more, when she saw him so cruelly, and frightfully persecuted, tormented, and crucified, and hanging so many hours alive upon the cross; and being dead, when she saw whimpered to the heart with a spear.
The went that spear to her heart, and so did all these injuries, reproaches, and torments which he received at the hands of the Jews, and especially of the Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, (that should have used him best) during the time in which Christ preached his gospel, and confirmed it with excellent works, and miracles.
But yet was there another sharper sword which pierced her soul. Consider then that some are stricken with the sword of sorrow but without any wound at all: such are those who hearing and admiring at the great afflictions, and cruel death of Christ; out of a natural commiseration, and tenderness of heart burst forth into tears of grief; and would dose so likewise for any notable misfortunes or disasters of there friends, and neighbors. These are stricken with the sword of sorrow, but not quit wounded therewith.
Others there be, that considering the bitter death, and passion of Christ are pierced, and wounded with sorrow, yet not so much out of a natural compassion of Christ, as out of sorrow for they sins, which were the cause of his death; and out of the love of God, and in imitation of Christ crucified for them do also crucified for them do also crucify their own bodies, (as Saint Paul saith) with much prayer, watching, fasting, disciplining, & other austerities of holy life; and these are pierced, and wounded with the sword of sorrow.
Others there are, that hearing, and reading of the bitter passion of our Savior Christ considering the price of a soul, to wit the precious blood of Christ where with it was redeemed; and that without the mercy of God it is lost again by one mortal sin; and pondering the great wrong that is done to the death; and passion of Christ, by the loss of such a soul: as also the infinite hurt of the party that sinner: considering I say, these things, are heartily sorrowful for the sins of others, and the offense by them done unto God; and such, because there never want sinners, will never want sorrow, and compassion: and consequently are in continual care and vigilance to redress it as much as they can. And these are pierced, and wounded to the very soul with the sword of sorrow: And this sword of sorrow, for the sins, and ingratitude of the world, & the neglect of Christs passion, and the offenses done against Gods honor, is that which most of all pierced the soul of our blessed lady; as appeareth by the words of Simeon, when after he had prophesied, of Christ, that he would be the falling of many in Israel, that is of those who would sin against him; turned his speech to our blessed Lady, and said of her, that a sword of sorrow should pierce her heart, to wit, for the ruin, and fall of sinners, who would not take benefit of the death, and passion of our Savior.
This is also the sword that pierced for sorrow our Lord Jesus, even to the soul, much more then the sharp nails that priced his hands, and feet. Wherefore let us make our blessed Lady a pattern unto us of this holy sorrow; and a patroness to help us to obtain mercy for our sins of her Son by her intersession, and prayers; and pray unto God, that he would wound our souls with this sword of charitable sorrow, not only for our own sins, but also for the sins of our neighbors, and the ruin, and fall of their souls.