Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
I Corinthians12:31-13:13; John 19:25-27)
Besides Jesus himself the most prominent and the most sympathetic character in Mel Gibson’s drama “The Passion of the Christ” is Mary, his mother. She is present in many of the flashbacks and in the graphic scenes of his being whipped (where she takes it upon herself to preserve his precious blood as a treasury of grace). She also stands as his cross, a loving witness of the world’s redemption. Nothing is said in the Gospel of John, the only one of the four that pictures Mary on Calvary, of how she feels to see her son crucified, but who could doubt that her emotion is one of inexpressible sorrow?
An ancient Eastern Christmas prayer speaks of Mary as the fairest of the human race and thus the perfect gift for the Christ child. Perhaps we should reserve the distinction of being the fairest for the infant himself, but Mary does represent the Church in her semblance of perfection. As she agonizes, we too are moved with deep sorrow to see Jesus die. While she lets go of a son, we part with a brother. He is, we know too well, better than we in every way – more generous to the needy, more ready to forgive, more insightful and wiser. The experience of watching him die slowly, painfully, and unjustly is almost unendurable. Graciously, however, he is not lost to Mary or to us forever. God will acknowledge his goodness and raise him to everlasting life. Sorrow will not reign as the definitive Christian virtue. It is only a step in the journey to full love.