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A Sword of Sorrow: Mary’s Immaculate Heart and Christ’s Passion
Today in the Catholic Church is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Jesus’s Mother (Latin Mass calendar), and Mary’s Queenship (Novus Ordo calendar).
Catholics have long had special devotions to the hearts of Jesus and Mary. The devotion to the Immaculate Heart means honoring Mary’s ardent love for Jesus, her Son and her God, and also Mary’s suffering. During Jesus’s Presentation in the Temple as a baby, Simeon said to Mary (Luke 2:34-35), “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.” That prophecy was fulfilled during Jesus’s Passion, when her Son’s suffering and death drove a sword of sorrow through Mary’s Immaculate Heart. We know Mary was right at the foot of her Son’s cross, because of the following passage from St. John (19:25-27):
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.”
The sword pierced the heart of the Mother as had been prophesied. Just as all of us should do, however, Mary joined her terrible suffering and grief to Jesus’s and thus the suffering merited good. All Christians are called to take up their crosses and follow Christ (Matt. 16:24). Mary did it best among humans, but she is eager to help us become ever closer to her Son, to offer all our actions and thoughts and words to Jesus.
In the newer calendar, today’s feast is called the Queenship of Mary. In the Old Testament tradition of the Jewish kingdom, a king’s mother was his queen, the queen mother. Jesus is the heir of the Davidic kingship, and it is therefore very fitting that, as He reigns over the Kingdom of Heaven, He should make His Mother the Queen of Heaven.
Mary’s task, now as during her life, is always to bring souls to Jesus. As our Queen and Mother, with a Heart that truly understands our deepest sorrows and troubles, Mary is our model and helper in being united with Jesus both in this life and the next.
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