The sword (Lk 2:35-2:35)

“The inner thoughts

Of many

Will be revealed.

A sword

Will pierce

Your own soul too.”

 

 καὶ σοῦ δὲ αὐτῆς τὴν ψυχὴν διελεύσεται ῥομφαία, ὅπως ἂν ἀποκαλυφθῶσιν ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν διαλογισμοί.

 

Luke explained that Simeon warned Mary about her future suffering.  This is often thought of as the beginning of the many sorrows that Mary will endure because of her son, Jesus.  Luke said that a sword would pierce or go through the soul of Mary (καὶ σοῦ δὲ αὐτῆς τὴν ψυχὴν διελεύσεται ῥομφαία).  Simeon said that the inner thoughts of many would be revealed (ὅπως ἂν ἀποκαλυφθῶσιν ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν διαλογισμοί).  Thus, the later medieval devotion to the Sorrowful Mother Mary is based on this passage and further developed in this gospel of Luke.

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The speech of Rabshakeh (Isa 36:4-36:7)

“Rabshakeh said to them.

‘Say to King Hezekiah.

Thus says the great king of Assyria.

On what do you base this confidence of yours?

Do you think that mere words are strategy?

Do you think that power is for war?

On whom do you now rely?

You have rebelled against me.

See!

You are relying on Egypt,

That broken reed of a staff,

That will pierce the hand

Of any man who leans on it.

Such is the Pharaoh King of Egypt

To all who rely on him.

But you say to me.

‘We rely on Yahweh our God.’

Is it not he whose high places

That King Hezekiah has removed?

Is it not he whose altars

King Hezekiah has removed?”

In words that are word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 18, Isaiah presents this speech from Rabshakeh meant for King Hezekiah of Judah (716-687 BCE). His diatribe, in the name of King Sennacherib of Assyria (706-681 BCE), implies that King Hezekiah had rebelled against the King of Assyria, since he now had a treaty with the Egyptian Pharaoh. Rabshakeh maintained that Judah had to be with either Assyria or Egypt. Rabshakeh told them not to be tricked by Egypt since they were a broken reed that would pierce their hands. He mocked the Israelites for saying that they relied on Yahweh, since King Hezekiah had torn down all the idol shrines during his religious reforms. However, there was no mention of the altar at Jerusalem here.

Divine justice (Sir 35:13-35:21)

“The Lord is the one

Who repays.

He will repay you sevenfold.

Do not offer him a bribe!

He will not accept it.

Do not rely

On a dishonest sacrifice!

The Lord is the judge.

There is no partiality

With him.

He will not show partiality

To the poor.

He will listen to the prayer

Of one who is wronged.

He will not ignore

The supplication of the orphan.

He will not ignore

The widow

When she pours out her complains.

Do not the tears of the widow

Run down her cheek?

She cries out against those

Who have caused her to fall.

The one whose service

Is pleasing to the Lord

Will be accepted.

His prayer will reach

To the clouds.

The prayer of the humble

Pierces the clouds.

It will not rest

Until it reaches its goal.

It will not desist

Until the Most High responds.

He does justice

For the righteous.

He executes judgment.”

Sirach reminds us that the Lord repays us justly. No bribe or dishonest sacrifice will change his mind. The Lord is a judge without partiality. He listens to the prayer of those who have been wronged. He does not ignore orphans and especially crying widows who are complaining. He does accept the pleasing service of those whose prayers will go up to heaven. The prayers of the humble will pierce the clouds. They will not rest until they reach the Most High God who will respond with a righteous just judgment.

The agreement with the prostitute (Prov 7:21-7:23)

“With much seductive speech

She persuades him.

With her smooth talk

She compels him.

Right away he follows her.

He goes like

An ox goes to the slaughter.

He bounds like

A stag toward the trap.

He goes until

An arrow pierces its entrails.

He is like

A bird rushing into a snare.

He does not know

That it will cost him his life.”

Her seductive speech and smooth talk persuades and compels him. The simpleton follows her like an ox going to slaughter. He is like a male deer bounding towards a trap. He would keep going until arrows would pierce him. He was like a bird rushing into a trap. He was completely unaware that this action would cost him his life.

Holofernes wants Achior sent away (Jdt 6:5-6:9)

“As for you, Achior,

You Ammonite mercenary,

You have said these words in a moment of perversity.

You shall not see my face again from this day

Until I take revenge on this race that came out of Egypt.

Then at my return,

The sword of my army

And the spear of my servants shall pierce your sides.

You shall fall among their wounded.

Now my slaves are going to take you back into the hill country.

They are going to put you in one of the towns beside the passes.

You will not die until you perish along with them.

If you really hope in your heart that they will not be taken,

Then do not look downcast!

I have spoken.

None of my words shall fail to come true.”

Then Holofernes turned back to Achior. He would never see his face again. After he had defeated the Israelites from Egypt, then he would pierce his sides. In the meantime, he was going to be put him into a town in the hill country between the mountain passes. If he wanted to live, he should hope that the Israelites win. Once again Holofernes was insistent that his words would come true.