"Behold this child is set...for a sign which shall be contradicted. And your own soul a sword shall pierce. (Luke 2:34-35)
God willed that Mary be the Queen of Sorrows and as such He set before her eyes the suffering she was to undertake as our Savior's mother.
Is it not somewhat of a contradiction that the Presentation, being one of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary, ends with the Prophesy of Simeon, one of Mary's sorrows? As is often the case, great joy is mingled with great suffering. The Blessed Virgin Mary told St. Matilda regarding St. Simeon's prophesy, "all her joy was changed into sorrow." It appears that Mary approached her Son's Presentation with joy, but all this was turned to sorrow, thus was the will of God, and indeed Mary accepted His Holy Will as she always did - as should we.
Mary also revealed to St. Teresa of Avila that she already knew that her son would be sacrificed for the salvation of the world. At Simeon's prophesy she learned in more specific detail of the sufferings and death her Son would undergo. Here she learned, by Simeon's words, how horribly opposed the people would be to the teachings of Jesus. She now knew that Jesus would be persecuted instead of being believed.
Let's look ahead into the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and just how this played out. I urge you to see this all through the sorrowful eyes of Mary, who loved her Son more than herself. He was accused of blasphemy by Caiphas: "He has blasphemed...he is guilty of death." (Mt 26:65,66). Jesus was accused of being a nobody, a person of lowly birth although He was of royal lineage: "Is not this the carpenter's son?" (Mt 13:55). "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" (Mk 6:3). He is the possessor of perfect wisdom and yet: "How does this man know letters, having never learned?" (Jn 7:15). Derided as a false prophet: "And they blindfolded him, and smote his face...saying: 'Prophesy who is it that struck you?' (Lk 22:64). He was treated as a crazy person: "He is mad, why hear you him?" (Jn 10:20) He was called a drunkard, a glutton, and a friend of sinners: "Behold a man that is a glutton, and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners." (Lk 7:34). A sorceror: "By the prince of devils he casts out devils" (Mt 9:34). He was also called a heretic, even possessed by the devil: "Do we not say well of you that you are a Samaritan and has a devil?" (Jn 8:48).
Jesus was so thoroughly calumniated, derided and held in public disdain that no trial was needed to condemn him, "If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to you." (Jn 18:30) Imagine if you will, Mary serving and following her Divine Son during his public life and the great suffering she underwent due to this contradiction, truly a living martyrdom!
St. Alphonsus de Ligouri takes this living contradiction of Jesus a step further: "He was opposed even in his very soul: for his own Eternal Father, in order to meet the demands of divine justice, opposed him by refusing to hear his prayer when he said: 'Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me." (Mt 26:39). His Father abandoned him to fear, weariness, and sadness - so much so that Jesus exclaimed: 'My soul is sorrowful unto death' (Mt 26:38). His inner sufferings even caused him to sweat blood. In a word, he was persecuted and tortured in body and in soul in every way until a finally, drained of every drop of his blood, he expired - an object of scorn on a cross of shame."
Think of the scorn and humiliation Our Lord underwent in the business of saving us. Think of the sword that pierced the soul of Our Heavenly Mother who suffered silently at her Son's side, offering her sufferings for us. Be grateful for this!
O blessed Mother, I have not pierced your heart with one sword alone, but with as many as are the number of sins I have committed. O Lady, it is not you who are innocent who ought to suffer, but I who am guilty of so many crimes. But since you have suffered so much for me, obtain for me by your merits great sorrow for my sins and patience in the trials of this life. These are bound to be light in comparison with my crimes, by which I have so often deserved hell. Amen+
(Source: The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri)