"God so loved the world that he gave
his only Son" (John 3:16). Mary,in turn, so loved God that she gave her full
consent, conceived and gave birth to the Father's only Son in a human nature,
served his mission fully, and uniting her suffering with his on Calvary,
offered him back to the Father for the sake of the world. No human being has
ever loved Jesus as dearly and served his mission as perfectly as the Blessed
Virgin Mary. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Mary "was
associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his
redemptive suffering" (CCC 618). Mary desires to unite our hearts to hers so
that our love of God becomes undivided like hers; our devotion to Jesus becomes
complete like hers; and our dedication to his mission becomes total like hers!
St. Louis de Montfort helps us to
understand both the truth of and the intense zeal with which God entered into
the world through Mary in order to die for the world. He says this of Jesus:
"He espoused the cross at his Incarnation with indescribable love"; "The bond
between the Lamb and the cross is indissoluble, their union is eternal" ( Love
ofEternal Wisdom, by St. Louis de Montfort; pp. 172,170). Hidden
within the Mystery of the Annunciation of the Lord is the cross--the instrument
of our redemption. From the moment of her consent at the Annunciation, Mary
became forever united with the paschal Lamb and linked with his destiny. Hence,
Mary's life will be marked by "paschal swords of sorrow": "Do not think that I
have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the
sword" (Mt. 10:34). Intercessors are invited, through a deep union with
Mary, to participate more intimately in the destiny shared between "the Lamb
and the Woman".
The first mention of a sword in the
bible occurs in Gen. 3:24 after the first sin of Adam and Eve. We are told that
when God "expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he
stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way
to the tree of life." The first sin of humanity, the separation from God and
the spiritual death that ensued, and the banishment of Adam and Eve from the
garden that resulted from this becomemanifest in a sword--a
sword that prohibited re-entrance to thegarden. Unfortunately, Adam
and Eve chose to live separately from God's word. On the other hand, at the
Annunciation Mary chose freely to surrender herself to and consent completely
to God's word: "May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke
1:38). The way back to the garden--the garden associated with relationship,
intimacy, submission to and union with God--will come through a sword. For
Mary, there will be seven swords.
Most of us have seen an image of "Our
Lady of Sorrows" which depicts the heart of Mary exposed with seven swords
embedded. These are "soul swords": The seven swords of Mary's victim-hood
(yet, they are "victory's swords" as well). We might also call these "swords of
sorrow", "paschal swords", "participatory swords", "co-redemptive swords", or
even "Wisdom's seven swords" (for, each of them comes because of Mary's
relationship with Wisdom Incarnate, Jesus Christ).The first of these
"swords of sorrow" occurs during the Mystery of the Presentation in the Temple.
In this scene, Simeon says:
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to a sign that will be
contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce..." (Luke
prophecy links the destiny of "the Lamb and the Woman" ("this child...and you
yourself"). Jesus is the "preordained" Word of the Father, sent into the world
for the predetermined purpose of our salvation--who, in the spirit of the words
spoken through the Prophet, Isaiah, "shall not return to me void, but shall do
my will, achieving the end for which I sent it" (Is. 55:11). Jesus will be
opposed by humanity. He will meet with acceptanceandrejection. He and his message will be a source of conflict and
dissension. Mary will experience the pain of this rejection in her heart as
swords of suffering.
God's words spoken through Simeon
pierce Mary's heart because of her intimate love of, and unique association
with, Jesus. These words continue to reveal--to unfold-- for Mary and for us
what her fiat at theAnnunciation will
entail, and the purpose of the Incarnation. Today, Mary desires to unite
each of us with her seven mystical swords; for, the deeper the identification
with the Lamb, the more powerful the intercession and the more profound the
passover for those whom we are praying for.
(to be continued)
I recall and describe one of the more profound heart piercings of my life?
is God inviting me to grow in the way that I handle "swords of sorrow" in my life?
Any scripture from the text; Mark 3:35; John 11:16.
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