Ever since Israel had been delivered from slavery in Egypt around the 13th century BC, the firstborn of the Jews has been consecrated to God. (Exodus 13:1-2) Therefore, Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple in order to be presented to the LORD. At the same time, Mary also went for the ritual of Purification forty days after childbirth. According to the Law, the Purification offering required a lamb, or for those who are poor, a pair of doves or pigeons. (Leviticus 12)
Mary and Joseph were too poor to offer a lamb, but she brought the Lamb of God to the Temple. Here, it was not only the firstborn of Mary who was presented to God, but the only begotten Son of God who was presented to the Eternal Father.
It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the LORD. And when the child Jesus finally appeared, Simeon took Him into his arms and proclaimed the future of not only his own people, but of all nations of the earth. He said, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32) Simeon, an old man who was at the sunset of his life, foretold the sunrise of the world – that the long awaited Messiah who will save the world from sin and death has finally come.
To Mary, Simeon said: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted —and you yourself a sword will pierce— so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35) Simeon foretold that this Child would be a stumbling block for many, and a touchstone that would reveal the dispositions of human hearts. All of these things would be confirmed during the ministry of Christ.
The nearer Christ comes to a person’s heart, the more that person becomes conscious of his sin. Consequently, the person will, either ask for Christ’s mercy and find forgiveness and peace, or turn away from Christ and live in spiritual darkness. As the Light of the world, Jesus is a constant joy to those who love the light; but at the same time, He is a constant vexation to those who choose to live in darkness.
Once upon a time there was a magic mirror. When a good person looked at it, its glass remained clear. However, when an evil person looked at it, its glass became blurred. That make believe mirror is like Jesus, because He discloses the inner dispositions of men. Since the day of Simeon’s prophecy until now, Jesus continues to be a sign to be contradicted. What does that mean? Consider the sun; as the sun shines on wax and softens it; it also shines on mud and hardens it. In the same way, the Light of Christ shines on some people and softens their hearts; but others will make their hearts even harder, even as the Light of Christ shines on them.
Finally, Simeon also foretold something about Mary – that she would be pierced by a sword. If Jesus would become the Book of Isaiah’s Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3); then Mary would become the Mother of Sorrows. If the Eternal Father didn’t spare His Eternal Son from His Passion and Death, then neither can the Son spare His mother from her grief and suffering. His Passion will be accompanied with her Com-Passion. The spear that would pierce His Sacred Heart would also pierce Mary’s Immaculate Heart.