Here's the reflection I preached today at Our Lady of the Rosary, about Our Lady of Sorrows.
I think I'll post most of the reflections I write up here on the blog. It's not because I'm particularly proud of them, and I want to show off. It's more like "it took me an hour to write these 300 words, so I might as well post it here".
Today, we remember Our Lady of Sorrows. The Church gives special significance to the Seven Sorrows of Mary, and today's Gospel describes the First Sorrow, which is the Presentation at the Temple. In this scene, Mary and Joseph take the Child Jesus to be purified at the temple, according to Jewish custom. During the ceremonies, the priest Simeon publicly declares that Jesus will suffer greatly, and a sword of sorrow will pierce Mary's heart.
The Presentation at the Temple has a special significance for everyone here at Our Lady of the Rosary, because it is one of the twenty mysteries of the Holy Rosary. However, you will note that the Presentation is one of the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, and not one of the Sorrowful Mysteries. Why is it that we remember one of the joyful mysteries for our Lady of Sorrows? How can the same event be both joyful and sorrowful? Isn't that a contradiction?
Yes, it is a contradiction. But as the Gospel says: Jesus is a sign that will be contradicted. Jesus' death on the cross is a great contradiction, in that it is both a great and terrible event. It is the single greatest event of human history, because by Jesus' atoning death, heaven has been restored to us.
But think of how terrible the crucifixion must have been for the Virgin Mary! She saw the death of her son firsthand, and this is when the sword of sorrow pierced her immaculate heart. But still, Jesus' great love for us was not satisfied by his death on the cross; after giving us the gift of his great sacrifice, he left us with a second gift: the gift of his mother. It was while dying on the cross that Jesus officially gave the Virgin Mary, his mother, to be our mother also.
Today, at this Mass, we celebrate and remember these two gifts that Jesus gave to us, even though we are not worthy to receive them. We remember Jesus' death, as it is made present to us in the Eucharist, and we remember our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, today on the memorial of her seven sorrows. As the Book of Sirach tells us, "Do not forget the sorrows of your mother" (Sirach 7:29). Amen.