THE PROPHECY OF SIMEON
“And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his Mother: Behold this child is set for the ruin 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.”
1. We have already had prophecies concerning the future life of the Child. The Angel has said that “He shall be great”; Zachary has proclaimed His mission; the choir of angels have spoken to the shepherds of His Kingship. But no one has yet recorded that part of His future which is most distinctly marked in Isaias, the lot of suffering. No one has alluded to that discriminating character of His mission which is announced by the prophet Malachi. “Behold He cometh, said the Lord of hosts, and who shall be able to think of the day of His coming, and who shall stand to see Him? For He is like a refining fire, and like the fuller’s herb.” This last is the first part of Simeon’s prophecy: The Child is to be a rock of offense to many, and to many–more, may we not add? He is to be the resurrection.
2. The second part of the prophecy refers to the Child Himself and His Mother. He Himself is to go through the agony of contradiction; she must suffer along with Him. Already for Our Lady the sympathetic pain of the Passion is beginning; already her “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” is bearing fruit. A fond mother suffers untold secret agony in her heart when she watches her child and wonders about its future; perhaps she would suffer more if she knew all. And Mary, if she did not know all, at least knew enough from this moment to have the sword continually cutting through her heart.
3. Then follows, apparently, the reason for all this: “That out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.” As so often in the Scripture, above all in the prophecies of Scripture, in both the Old Testament and the New, one suddenly comes upon a sentence which seems to contain an infinity of meaning, which we cannot hope to fathom, which it would be mere presumption on our part to attempt to fathom, and yet which affords us an endless source of contemplation. Put it in a kind of litany, and see how indeed the prophecy has been and is being fulfilled:
- “This Child is set for the fall of many–that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.
- This Child is set for the resurrection of many–that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.
- This Child is set for a sign that shall be contradicted–that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.
- Thy own soul a sword shall pierce–that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.”
In such a way it is not difficult for my own thoughts to be discovered.
Summary Meditation Points
- The Child is to be for the fall of many, and for the resurrection of many.
- The Child and His Mother are to suffer in the task.
- The motive: “that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.”
Art: Simeon’s Song of Praise, Aert de Gelder, circa 1700-1710, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons. Mirror of Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.