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Lenten Reflections 2021: When a Sword Pierces Your Soul: Jesus’ Goodbye to His Mother

By   @johnvinod  | March 3, 2021

Prior to starting the forty-day pilgrimage in a desert and launching his Messianic ministry, there was one event in Jesus Christ’s earthly life which, I believe, must have been the toughest for him as well as his earthly mother. This remarkable day was the day Jesus decided to say goodbye to his mother who brought him into this world and raised him to be the Messiah of the world. The point that this day, or act is recorded nowhere in the Gospels does not make it any less important. It must have been difficult for both Jesus and Mary as they both knew what lies ahead in Jesus’ life as he embarked upon his ministry that culminated on the cross.

For Jesus it was poignant because he had learned to take his first steps holding Mary’s hands. He had grown accustomed to the delicious home cooked food that she prepared and served daily with love.

For Mary it would have been one of the most heartbreaking days of her life. Although she knew Jesus more than anyone on earth could ever know, despite knowing who he was and what his mission on earth was, she did not know the specific details. However, she knew one thing: it involved death, as she recalled the somber words of a prophecy of an old man, Simeon:

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2: 33-35 NRSV)

The sword here means a sharp weapon like a javelin or a long sword and the syntax of the last sentence means it will constantly keep on piercing! There is no fear like the fear of losing a child, especially after losing your husband a few years ago. Therefore, like any mother, though Mary had learned to let go, there would always be a part of her that would like to hold on to his hand. The day Jesus decided to leave home for the ministry, he gently but firmly released his rough hands from her soft grip and went out of the house. However, for Mary there would be a part of him that would remain with her always—her little boy Jesus. Not only that day, but Jesus’ mission would inevitably continue piercing Jesus’ mother. However, she loved him so much that she was willing to take that risk.

Friends, in the forthcoming Passion Week, as we focus our thoughts on the painful piercing of Jesus’ flesh on the cross, let us not forget the piercing of Mary’s flesh. Following Jesus and loving him is precarious and challenging. If it is not for you, then, perhaps you are following a cultural Jesus made in the image of your culture or church. When you and I, who claim to love Jesus and renew our commitment to him this Lent, let us also be prepared to acknowledge that our hearts may not be safe and comfortable forever. Jesus, the Savior, will someday unsettle your life if he has not already done it. And someday, perhaps, a sword will pierce your heart, too!

Today, do you love him to only receive the blessings that come from believing and following Jesus Christ? Do you love Jesus so much as to take the risk of letting him unsettle and challenge your worldview, your life, and your soul? Let us pray during this Lent that God would prepare us for that day. May the Lord help us realize that the greater our love for Jesus, the sharper may be the sword that will pierce our heart and our soul, and the most drastic may be the unsettling of our lives, because we decide to follow Jesus Christ. May the Lord help us understand that this is one risk worth taking because of his unconditional love for us. Amen!

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Advent reflection: Prayers and worship to Mary?


Advent reflection: Prayers and worship to Mary?

Please read: Luke 1: 39-56

Mary, an ordinary teenage girl of Nazareth in Galilee, was betrothed to Joseph and God chose her to be conceived by the Holy Spirit to give birth to Jesus Christ, has been venerated and prayed to for centuries. However, today, I would like you to consider if Mary is worthy of our worship, veneration, and prayers. I think this is needed because there are millions of sincere followers of Christ who have fallen prey to the unbiblical practice devised and propagated by the Roman Catholic Church from its inception. Just because it’s believed and practiced by millions of people for thousands of years doesn’t make it right or scriptural.

There is very little that we know about Mary from the Bible. We don’t even know who her parents were even though the Roman Catholic tradition has come up even with the names of her parents and venerates them as saints. Whoever her parents were, this is certain that they were a godly couple. They raised Mary with a virtuous character and taught her to fear God and to walk humbly before him. They taught her to obey God and to submit her life for his perfect will. That’s why when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with the baffling good news of her conception through the Holy Spirit, she calmly accepted and said yes to God. In doing so, Mary also said yes to the consequences of saying yes to God in one’s life. We all know what it meant for an engaged teenage girl to get pregnant before the consummation of her marriage in the Jewish society in the first century. Therefore, Mary deserves our honor and respect. She serves as the best model for teenagers, women, and mothers in today’s society. Mary certainly needs to be followed as an example in her virtuous and righteousness by every follower of Jesus Christ. However, despite all the above and contrary to what the Roman Catholic Church’s highly developed cult around the “Blessed Mary”, the “Virgin Mary”, or the “Mother of God”, there is no theological or scriptural basis for us to worship Mary in any way. Mary was not divine and neither was she a perpetual virgin. She continued an ordinary life as Joseph’s wife after the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary undeniably needs be honored above all saints and holy fathers, but she’s not worthy of our worship.

Worship and adoration is due only to the living, eternal, and triune God. Any kind of worship to any person or thing other than the triune God, revealed to us in the scriptures, is an unacceptable idolization. It’s impossible to worship God and anyone else at the same time. Jesus Christ said, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him’” (Luke 4: 8 NRSV). Further, Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him” (John 4: 23 NRSV).

Since Mary is neither divine nor worthy of our worship, she’s also not the one we should pray to. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus teach us to petition her for anything or to direct our prayers to his mother. In fact, Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50 NRSV). Just like our worship, our prayers and petitions must be directed to God the Father alone in the name of Jesus Christ, his son (see, Matthew 6: 6-7; 6: 9-13; Luke 11:2-12; Philippians 4: 6-7).

We thank God for Mary, but we bow down before God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

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