THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity
31 December 2017
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We have been given the testimony of every age, sex, and condition of life in favor of Jesus Christ. We have the testimony of the Angel Gabriel as well as the host of angels at His birth. We have the testimony of an old (formerly sterile) wife Elizabeth. We have the testimony of the Virgin Mary in her Magnificat. In today's Gospel, we find the testimony of an old man and a widow Simeon and Anna. There can be no doubt that each of these by themselves is worthy of credence, but all together, there is given certainty of the truth that Jesus is God made Man.
What interests us today is the testimony of Simeon. He was awaiting the Savior of his people. There is no selfishness in this, His desire is for others. This is what he longed and prayed for that he should see the Savior of men. Having been granted this grace, Simeon is now ready to be dismissed he is ready to die. Having held God in his arms, there is nothing left in this world for him. God is everything all the material things in this world even the world itself is as nothing in comparison. Having held God, He can hold nothing else. He has reached the fullness of this life and is eager for the next.
Having given forth in prayer these sentiments, he has something to say to Mary: "and thy own soul, a sword shall pierce." St. Ambrose tells us that there is no record of Mary suffering a violent death so this prophecy is referencing a spiritual sword a spiritual trial or temptation. This trial for Mary is frequently pointed out as her sufferings beneath the Cross of Our Lord. A spiritual agony, a spiritual death that is more bitter and painful than any physical death could be.
The Catholic Church has taken up the position of Mary until the end of time. It is the Church through which Jesus is brought to us, but it is also in the True Church that a sword pierces Her soul. The Church labors with Jesus for the salvation of men, but men reject Jesus and cry out for His Blood. The Church is in union with the suffering and the agony of Christ's Sacrifice. She feels keenly and bitterly the rejection of Christ by heretics and schismatics. It is a spiritual death that She is in continual agony with until the End of Time.
Individual Catholics have been given Jesus by the Church, they have (in a sense) held Him in their arms as Simeon had. Each of us personally should be ready with Simeon to be asked to be dismissed from this life. Having received and held God, what attraction can the world possibly have for us? God, who is All has allowed us to hold Him, to take Him into our bodies in Holy Communion. Everything else in this world is empty and hollow it is nothing compared to This.
But, the Church (True Church) cannot die. Christ has promised to remain with Her until the End of Time. Mary stayed with Jesus to the bitter end even when most everyone else fell away. Jesus will likewise stay with His Church to the bitter end even when most everyone else falls away. The days do look bleak for the Church today. She suffers bitterly from Her enemies, but Her greatest pains come from those who should have been Her consolation and joy. The betrayal of loved ones stings the greatest. As the Church suffers Her own crucifixion in following Jesus throughout time Jesus remains with Her. And She will find a few faithful children with Her that She will entrust to Him as He entrusted His Mother to us in the person of St. John. It will be Her duty to say to Jesus: "Behold Thy children," and to say to Her faithful followers: "Behold thy Savior."
We should take heed of the prophecy of Simeon given to Mary, and rejoice with Simeon that we have been given the great opportunity to hold Him in our bodies. Having lived to receive Him, we should long for nothing else, but to be eternally united with Him. Let us pray that through the words of Simeon we obtain the grace to appreciate and truly value all that we have been given through the Church. May we offer our sympathy and aid to Mary for the sword that she allowed to pierce her soul as well as to the Church for all that She must endure until the End of Time. Pray that we are not among the fearful who deny Her and flee from Her in Her last hours of agony.
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