I was so pleased on that crisp December day to host my family and to show off my newborn son, Nathanael—the first grandchild of the Murray clan.

I welcomed my parents' offers to take Nathanael, burp him, change him, whatever. Toward less-experienced aunts and uncles, however, I possessed a bit more reticence. Did they know to support his head? He doesn't like to be held over the shoulder—he cries. And, nothing—nothing—passes through his delicate digestive tract except sweet, unadulterated mother's milk.

Which explains my horror at seeing his uncle spoon-feed my cherub chocolate frosting right off the cake.

So I can imagine what Mary must have felt as she brought her six-week-old first-born to Jerusalem "to present him to the Lord" (Luke 2:22). All that dirt, the strangers, animals. Then, at the temple, Joseph and Mary were confronted by a strange old man—who "took the baby in his arms"! (Did he have his head? Were his hands clean?) He babbled, of all things, a prophecy: "My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel" (Luke 2:30-32, NIV).

How would he know such things? But old Simeon was not finished. He turned to Mary and, looking her straight in the eye, said, "And a sword will pierce your own soul, too."

Many have assumed that Mary's pierced soul refers to her anguish over her son's passion and death. But I am convinced that the "sword" pierced Mary's soul long before that moment.


All mothers can tell of proud moments related to their kids. I had such a moment with one of my sons a year and ...

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