The Fall and Rise of Many

Luke 2: 22-35
1 Jn 2:3-11 / Psa 96

“Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign of contradiction, (while a sword will pierce your own soul) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
(Luke 2:34-35)

What was once a great mystery
Was that “sign of contradiction”;
But soon Christ’s Word revealed to me
That His cross was our salvation.

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:22-35)

Reflection

Everyone who met Jesus fell, either into repentance or submission. He caused many to both fall, and then rise again. Simon Peter was the first when he witnessed the miraculous catch of fish and fell at Jesus’ feet, saying “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). Matthew came next when he left his post at the imperial revenue office. St. Paul had the biggest fall of all (from his horse) when he encountered the Spirit of Jesus on the way to Damascus. But as Simeon predicted, all of them rose again to become the best followers of Jesus in spreading His kingdom here on earth. When we come into a closer relationship with God, He will reveal to us how sinful and unworthy we are of His beloved Son’s suffering and death on the cross. To fall down in humble penitence is an important process of our transformation, because, after all, we can never get to heaven on our own merits. Until we fall from the pride and prestige of this world, from the need to be self-assured and self-sufficient, from the folly of financial achievements and human glory, we will never learn to rise to the call of the cross, to be humble, to be servile, to wake up to the realization that we are nothing, and everything belongs to God alone. Let us always keep in mind the words of the Apostle Paul: “What do you have, that you weren’t given?” We who have acknowledged Jesus as King should live lives that reflect His character, especially His humility.

We have the Blessed Mother Mary as our ideal. She was given the privilege of being the mother of the Son of God. But with this high privilege also came a “sword which would pierce her heart” as her Son would die on the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because she had faith and trust in God’s promise. The Lord gives this strange kind of joy which helps His favored ones bear any sorrow or pain.

Lord, thank You for Your supernatural love, which none of us on earth can ever hope to fathom; it fills us with gladness, and great expectation of things to come. Amen.

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