At Mass yesterday, the day on which we celebrated the Presentation of the Lord, we heard Luke’s account of Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to Jerusalem “to present him to the Lord.” The celebrant at the Mass I attended used the shorter version of the Gospel, which did not include the prophesy of Simeon. Predictably I suppose, the omission caused me to focus on the absent portion of the reading.
As I later sat reflecting on Simeon’s words to Mary, the first thought I had was the difference between Mary hearing this prophesy and, for example (strange as it seems at first blush, this really is the example that came to my mind), the parents of Sleeping Beauty hearing the prophesy that their daughter would die by pricking her finger with a spindle. Horrified the parents take every step to prevent the fulfillment of the prophesy. In Mary’s case, as ominous as Simeon’s words must have seemed to Mary, something in his words must have resonated in her mind, perhaps reminding her of the message of the angel, creating in her mind some recognition that Simeon’s words had something to do with the fulfilment of God’s plan.
My next thought was a short-lived one: what went through my mind was the thought that it must have been difficult for Mary after Simeon’s prophesy – that she must have lived each day waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Waiting for the time when she would be pierced by a sword, to use Simeon’s words.
Almost before the thought was completed in my mind I realized that Mary did no such thing. Rather, she lived her life with the same faith that allowed her to say yes to her role in God’s plan for salvation. That means it far more likely that she lived her life as Jesus’ mother fully and faithfully in the moment, without being plagued by excessive anxiety about the future.
And that should be our goal. To face whatever we are asked to face with full faith and security in the presence of God with us, without being plagued by anxieties about what might happen to us or, indeed, what might have been. To accept whatever we are given, and to fully engage in that, without worrying about when the other shoe is going to drop. That is the faith Mary had.