The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
(Hebrews 5: 7 – 9; Ps 31; John 19: 25 – 27)
At the Presentation in the Temple Simeon addressing Mary made this prophecy: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel…and you yourself a sword will pierce…” (Luke 2: 35) All through her life Mary will carry that prophecy and ponder it.
As Mary stood by the cross, she experienced the pain of this sword more terrible, more piercing than she could have ever imagined – she looked upon her beloved Son abused almost beyond recognition, horribly nailed to a cross. She heard the mocking, the jeers, insult upon insult, and then seeing the soldiers casting lots for his seamless tunic – surely she had woven for Him.
St. John states: “Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” She stood – where did His Mother ﬁnd the strength to stand let alone be there as her Son died in agony. Surely it was a strength that exceeded her human powers – it had to be – given the circumstances, the horror, the terrible sword. There was her helplessness; she could do nothing to alleviate his agony.
On one occasion Jesus said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself.” The cruciﬁed Christ lifted up certainly drew His own Mother to Himself and in that drawing Jesus graced her with His own strength – a strength of total love – a divine strength hidden in His pain and very much alive in His terrible weakness. So she was lifted up to stand by the cross to the very end – overshadowed by the Spirit of the Father and the Son, her Son.
Jesus’ divine strength, His unfailing love encompassed her, ﬁlled her despite the anguish she felt – she stood because the strength she received from her Son was deeper and stronger than any of the pain. What can we take from this – at Cana, Mary said “Do whatever He tells you.” Today I believe Our Lady tells us, “Receive whatever He grants you” – always be a receiver, always open your heart to His grace. To hear, to embrace, to obey her wisdom is to honor her more than any title we offer or any prayer we recite.