Thursday, September 15, 2011

'Behold, your mother'

"She is more Mother than Queen." - -Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church

Gospel text (Lc 2,33-35):
Jesus' father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

On this feast the Church invites us to ponder Mary’s strength as she stands with her son at the foot of the cross. In this mystery, God reveals through Mary what it means to follow Our Lord to the end – with love, fidelity, and endurance. She is also our patron as we attentively encounter the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters in the Mystical Body of Christ today. On this day we thank Mary for being a living sacrament of God's enduring compassion.

In Mary’s sorrow we discover what we don’t much want to acknowledge: that real love, as it matures, will inevitably take the form of sorrow when those we love must endure pain, suffering and death. In the larger view of God’s plan of salvation, she shows us how to be with those who suffer at the hands of the greedy, inordinately ambitious, and arrogant agents of injustice in our daily lives and in our world. She is the one by whom God reveals what real sorrow is, and how sacred it is.

Our Lady of Sorrows, then, reveals what sorrow is from God’s perspective. It is a fundamental openness to the suffering of another. Her sorrow shows us the sacred power we all have not only to acknowledge another person’s pain, but also to desire to share in it. In real sorrow we open up to allow the suffering of another to find a place in our hearts. This is precisely the disposition Simeon refers to in his words to Mary, “And you yourself a sword will pierce.” As sons and daughters of Mary, we are called and have the grace through her to open ourselves more and more to others of our time who are living out the Paschal Mystery. This is a fundamental disposition of Christian life.

As Mary shares in the sufferings of her Son, she is able only to accompany Him. She does not "do" anything. She can only be present to Him. But her presence includes knowing, understanding, accepting and loving. As one author puts it: “When ‘nothing can be done’ medically, socially, psycho-therapeutically, or whatever way, then the core needs of people emerge. They are being known, being understood, being accepted, being loved. These elements form the content of Mary's presence to her Son on Calvary.”

From Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, we learn to be men and women for others who stand with them in faith and love in times of darkness and suffering. She is a witness to us in her living faith and maternal love fulfiilling the most profound mysteries of the Redemption. She inspires us not only in her silent helplessness during Our Lord’s passion and death, but also as a young mother in her humble, hidden, and quiet activity in Nazareth, and as she lived out her later years mothering the Paschal Mystery into the life of the early Church.

Ave Maria!

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