Recognising the infant Jesus in the Temple, Simeon described him as a sign that would be spoken against by many. He also told his mother Mary that a sword would pierce her own soul. Our Lord remains that “sign of contradiction” even today, as his life and teachings often stand in stark contrast to the philosophies and ways of our modern world.
Take for example, Our Lord’s teaching about forgiveness. When someone offends us a wide range of emotions wells up inside us: from anger, to hurt, to resentment, and in some extreme cases to a desire for revenge, even a punch on the nose. Many people today would tell us that these feelings are completely justified, we’re human and that’s the way we are made; but that’s not how Mary reacted when she saw her Son dying in agony on the Cross for our sins.
Whenever we feel as if our souls are being pierced, we should try to measure our response against Our Lord’s teaching that we must forgive seventy times seven times, that we must turn the other cheek, and that we must pray for those who offend us. Our Lady’s forgiveness was boundless, and so can ours.
Or take as another example the world’s approach to peace and happiness. The world tells us that security lies in being strong, healthy, wealthy, good-looking, and smart. But the world makes little or no provision for our spiritual needs. The world sees Jesus and his teachings as good, but not as essential; nice, but not vital; one way, but not the only way.
How easy it can be to replace the call to forgive with another interpretation; how easy it can be to minimise Jesus and maximise worldly philosophies. And yet Jesus still tells us that it is the lowly and the humble who will inherit the highest places in his kingdom.