Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
(I Corinthians 12:12-14.27-31a; John 19:25-27)
A German writer went to Egypt to find out more about the twenty-one Coptic martyrs a few years ago. The men were slain by Muslim extremists for their adherence to belief in Christ. The writer discovered that the mothers of the young men were not grief stricken, at least at the time of his visit. They were mostly joyful and proud that their sons gave their lives for Christ. Mary in today’s gospel has this air as well.
Mary, like everyone else in John’s gospel, accompanies Jesus to the cross. There Jesus pronounces her mother of his beloved disciple. It is not necessarily a singular responsibility. In becoming the mother of the unnamed disciple, Mary becomes the mother of all Jesus’ beloved disciples. Like the mothers of the Coptic martyrs, Mary would feel proud and joyful. She now has an intimate relationship with the multitude of Christians through the ages.
We do not mean to say that Mary is not at the same time sorrowful. No doubt her heart is heavy to see her son executed. But from the beginning of the gospel she is a woman of faith. She knows that Jesus’ horrific death will turn into unimaginable glory. We likewise believe that, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, our dying to self leads to eternal life.