It’s a bit mind-bending that the Joyful Mystery of the Presentation in the Temple is linked with one of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, the Prophecy of Simeon. How can it be joyful and sorrowful at the same time? If you think about it, it’s not that unusual. So many things in this life have joy and sorrow married together—the joys of having a new baby are joined with the sorrows of seeing the baby experience pain for the first time. The joy of seeing your kids grow is mixed with the sorrow of sometimes having to give tough love to help them grow. The joys of marriage, which are many and beautiful, often seem dependent on sorrows that must come first.
I think it’s one of God’s profound mysteries that joy and sorrow are so often linked. We know that Jesus’s sufferings, which caused great sorrow for his mother and followers, brought to them and to us the joy of redemption. For many years I refused to meditate on the Sorrows of Mary because it seemed just too sad and heart-wrenching. But after being encouraged several times by my confessor, I finally decided to give it a try. To my surprise, it has brought me great joy and comfort. I hear the same from others who have a devotion to our Mother of Sorrows.
When spending time on this devotion, I always go into it with the intent to comfort her, but I always find that she starts comforting me. She’s very sneaky about it. I don’t ever know when or how it is that she starts turning it around to me, but she always does. How amazing our Mother’s love is! She can’t let her children love and comfort her without loving and comforting them back, even in the midst of her greatest sorrows.
This illustrates even more to me that no suffering or sorrow goes to waste if united with the sufferings of our Lord Jesus. This goes not only for Mary’s sorrows, but for ours as well. God has given us incredible power—the ability to help another soul, living or deceased, through our prayer and suffering. He didn’t have to do it this way. He could have made himself the one and only dispenser of spiritual help. Instead, he has given us the power to assist in bringing grace to others; it’s all part of the unity of the body of Christ.
I find it incredible that our Father God has given us this ability—to assist in distributing his grace and mercy. Though we would never wish sorrows upon ourselves or others, they will inevitably come. Great things can be accomplished through our sorrows, because God is Love, and he does not limit the amount of love we can give and receive. All sorrows, from the smallest to the largest, and to the very deep ones—all of them can be powerful in helping others. If we unite them with Jesus and Mary in their sorrows, we are helping our soul and the souls of others with no limit to God’s mercy, no limit to his love. Knowing that Jesus and Mary are loving us and suffering with us is hugely comforting and a great and mysterious gift.
I wish you comfort; I wish you love; I wish you joy in your sorrows.