What's your interpretation of this New Testament Bible prophesy?

I’d like our Protestant brethren to give their/their Churches interpretation of the following New Testament prophesy.

Luke 2:34-35 :

34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted

35 (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Maybe after examining the Protestant viewpoint we could give the Catholic interpretation as a comparison.


`Actually, I’d like to add a companion verse in Luke as well that is Luke 1:47-49

And Mary said,“My soul doth magnify the Lord,and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid;for behold henceforth all generations will call me blessed because He that is mighty hath done great things for me.”

I was hoping to get at least our Lutheran members to respond.:frowning:

Well, maybe I can get a Catholic answer?

I’m a pretty new Catholic. When I was a Protestant, I would have taken that prophecy to mean that Mary would have to suffer the death of her son. You know, your standard coming crucifixion prophecy.

Now I’m curious. What is the Catholic interpretation?

I’ll take an (admittedly uninformed) stab at it :o

The “fall and rise” could have both an immediate fulfillment and a future. The immediate change is seen in the rise of the ordinary, sinful, lowly people who followed Christ, contrasted with the downfall of those who held temporal power but opposed and despised Him. The future fulfillment might then speak of the spiritual Israel, and the constant battle within the Church itself as Satan and heresies seek to sift and oppose the Truth?

The sword that pierced the Virgin Mary’s heart is one of knowing that her Son was the Son of God while watching his rejection, betrayal, and crucifixion by sinners - and for the sake of the same sinners. Her life, indeed, must have been one of simultaneous pure joy and bitter grief.

I actually have no idea what the Catholic interpretation is. I’d like to hear it. :slight_smile:

Thank you for your responses. I always look forward to the Lutheran/ Anglican point of view because it’s almost always very similar to my Catholic understanding.

As to the prophesy, this is what I found:

By the sufferings in His human nature during the Passion by which mankind was redeemed, Christ gave to all suffering experienced in the members of His Mystical Body a redeeming power when accepted and offered up in union with His Passion. As Pope John Paul II wrote:
[INDENT][INDENT]“In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his sufferings, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ”(Salvifici Doloris )[/INDENT]In the divine plan Mary was destined to share in a unique way in the redemptive mission of her Son, and therefore in His suffering.** She received an early confirmation of this at the words of Simeon that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart.** (emphasis mine) On Calvary Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view, but which was supernaturally fruitful for the redemption of the world. As the application of the fruits of the redemption will continue until the end of the world, so will the unique role of Mary in the distribution of those graces.[/INDENT]

From Redemptive Suffering, By Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.

Very interesting! I find this particular topic fascinating, since it gives such a mysterious and powerful insight into the Blessed Virgin Mary. Definitely worth further study!

And thanks - we try :smiley:

Of, course.:slight_smile:

We are separated by so little. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said “our quarrels are lovers’ quarrels…”.

i would like to hear what the Evangelicals/Baptists have to say about this. They view our Holy Mother as a disposable vessel.

I have heard some evangelicals talk about Mary like as if she turned God’s offer down God had other girls in waiting to choose from so we could have a Blessed Virgin Sally instead. It is interesting that some protestants only cart Mary out at Christmas as long as she remains quiet and chose only “negative looking” scriptures in her regard.

I was hoping you’d expound on the companion verse that you mentioned at the beginning of this thread, Luke 1:47-49. Since we could only get one non-Catholic to respond (who happened to agree, btw) maybe by offering the Catholic interpretation of these scriptures we can draw out those who may have a different understanding. At the very least we could be instructing those who may be unfamiliar with these verses.

More excerpts from Redemptive Suffering, By Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P. :

St. Paul was so filled with the idea of the redemptive power of suffering that he exclaimed: *“I find joy in the sufferings I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church” *(Col. 1:24).

Those words of St. Paul are a puzzle to some, for they seem to imply that something is lacking in the Passion of Christ. St. Paul is speaking here of the Mystical Body of Christ, made up of Christ, the Head, and all souls in the state of grace who are the members of His Body. It is in the members of His Body that something is lacking. …He had no need of any other in redeeming the human race. But Jesus willed that the mystery of His Passion continue on in us, so that we may be associated with Him in the work of redemption. Jesus could have accomplished this alone, but He willed to need us in order to apply the infinite merits of His Passion to souls. Pope Pius XII spoke of this in his encyclical on the Mystical Body:

  [INDENT]*"In carrying out the work of redemption Christ wishes to be helped by the members of His Body. This is not because He is indigent or weak, but rather because He so willed it for the greater glory of His spotless Spouse. Dying on the Cross, He left to the Church the immense treasury of the Redemption. Towards this she (the Church) contributed nothing. But when those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this task of sanctification with His Church, but he wants it, in a way, to be due to her action. What a deep mystery . . . that the salvation of many depends on the **prayers*** and **voluntary penances** which the members of the Mystical Body offer for that intention, and on the assistance of pastors of souls and of the faithful, especially fathers and mothers of families, which they must offer to our divine Savior as though they were His associates."([Mystici Corporis Christi]("http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_29061943_mystici-corporis-christi_en.html"))


Well until 1517 or a little later all Christians had a pretty similar response to Our Lady. The title “Blessed” Virgin Mary or BVM comes straight out of this verse. This is really a response to the charge that we “worship” Mary or “give her too much honor and glory” which will somehow rob God or Jesus of their rightly given glory as if she was somehow in competition with Jesus for honor. The reality is that honors shown to Our Lady she gives to Jesus.
While it is true that perhaps some poorly educated catholics may confuse latria (worship which belongs to the Holy Trinity and them alone) with hyperdulia (great praise, prayer to Our Lady etc) this is not the teaching of either the Western (Roman) Catholic church nor is it the teaching of the Eastern churches whether in communion with Rome or NOT.
God chose her from the beginning to be the theotokos (Mother of God, God bearer) of all women. Even the protestant universalist poet Emerson calls her “Our fallen race’s greatest boast.”
Actually St Louis de Monfort gives a marvelous example of the role of Our Lady as queen. A peasant has come with a bowl of fruit to ask the King a favor. Instead of going directly to the King he first goes to the Queen who accepts the fruit on his behalf cleans ut up cutting away the rotten bits and serves it up to him on a silver platter making the plea for the loyal subject who obviously will get his favor granted.
Unfortunately haven given these responses to angry protestants who hate catholics for what they’ve been taught to beleive about us something other than the truth of the matter who accuse us of mariolatry this just isn’t the case. How many listen? Very few. (Don’t confuse me with the facts Pastor X says it and I believe it or worse yet the Bible says it and I beleive it-which it don’t as both verses point out.)

well that’s a very curious way of looking at it, especially from those who deny FREE WILL. with such a view they are actually contradicting themselves.

they think God’s plan for salvation comes with coincidences.

I am an evangelical, I don’t view Mary as a ‘disposable vessel’ btw. As for the passage I think the sword that pierces Mary’s heart I believe is the pain she is to feel at the suffering and death of her son. Though I don’t see anything in this passage that implies that her suffering adds to the work of atonement by Christ if that is a view point that some see here.

I believe most Protestant serious students of the Bible would say something like this concerning Luke 2:34-35: Simeon recognizes that though the Messiah has come to reveal light to the Gentiles, and glory to the people of Israel, not all in Israel will accept Jesus as the Messiah. Some, such as those in power in authority, will fall and others, who are poor and forgotten, will rise (cf. Luke 1:51-53). In this way, Jesus will serve as a sign to the people of Israel. For the people of Israel, signs were always for the purpose of revealing the truth of the words of a prophet. Simeon, by declaring the sign, is indicating that his prophecies will come true, and the sign will prove it. The sign in this case is that though the Messiah has come to Israel, He will be spoken against. This serves not only to validate Simeon’s words, but also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. God’s concern has always been for the condition of the heart, and how Israelites respond to the Messiah reveals what is in their hearts.

Simeon’s aside to Mary is that a sword will pierce through your own soul also. This is a foreshadow of the future crucifixion of Jesus, and the intense pain it would cause Mary. It is unlikely that Simeon knew that Jesus would die on a Cross.

Couple that with Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Mary’s heart will be tested too, just like all ours hearts.

Douay-Rheims Bible commentary:
Christ came for the salvation of all men; but here Simeon prophesies what would come to pass, that many through their own willful blindness and obstinacy would not believe in Christ, nor receive his doctrine, which therefore would be ruin to them: but to others a resurrection, by their believing in him, and obeying his commandments.

The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries:
*Jesus came to bring salvation to all men, yet He will be a sign of contradiction because some people will obstinately reject Him—and for this reason He will be their ruin. But for those who accept Him with faith Jesus will be their salvation, freeing them from sin in this life and raising them up to eternal life. The words Simeon addresses to Mary announce that she will be intimately linked with her Son’s redemptive work. The sword indicates that Mary will have a share in her Son’s sufferings; hers will be an unspeakable pain which pierces her soul. Our Lord suffered on the cross for our sins, and it is those sins which forge the sword of Mary’s pain. Therefore, we have a duty to atone not only to God but also to His Mother, who is our Mother too.

The last words of the prophecy, “that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed”, link up with verse 34: uprightness or perversity will be demonstrated by whether one accepts or rejects Christ.*

No, there is nothing lacking in the Passion of Christ. It is in the members of His Body that something is lacking. As quoted from Mystici Corporis Christi:
…the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body offer for that intention…

Catholics believe this is much more than an ‘aside’ from Simeon. For although it did foreshadow the crucifixion, it also foreshadowed the unique role of Mary in the Divine plan of Salvation. From St. Irenaeus:
Even though Eve had Adam for a husband, she was still a virgin… By disobeying, Eve became the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race. In the same way Mary, though she had a husband, was still a virgin, and by obeying, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. (Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus haereses 3:22)

Again, from Redemptive Suffering:
He allows one person to “fill up what is lacking” in another member of the Mystical Body which is the Church. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, “by the cooperation of Christ’s satisfaction, much lighter penalty suffices than one that is proportionate to the sin” (III, 49,3, ad 2).

We don’t know that Eve remained a virgin til after she ate of the friut of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as your quote implies. If I’m not understanding you correctly, I’m sorry.

In fact the following verse is recorded before the sin of Eve and Adam.

Gen 1:
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

I forgot to add to my original answer to your question, that my answer does not represent a churches understanding but my own. If I’m wrong, I get the blame. If I’m correct, I’d better let God have all the glory or I’m foolish.

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