How did Mary show her feelings as she witnessed her Son’s Passion? Was she numb with shock? Did she try to be stoic and stifle her tears? Did she crumple in a heap and sob uncontrollably? Or did she express her anguish in all of these ways?
Scripture doesn’t answer these questions. However, if Mary is human, which she is, and if she loves her Son, which she does, then surely the Passion must have filled her with sorrow. It is this sorrow that we recall today, the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.
We recall especially that Mary suffered while Jesus suffered. When we suffer, Mary invites us to gaze at Jesus on the cross. Jesus, however, refers us back to Mary and says: “Behold your mother.” It’s as if he says, “Look at Mary; she’s your example; do as she did.” And what did Mary do? She stayed with Jesus at the foot of the cross. She didn’t run away. We can learn three things from this.
First, when we stay at the foot of the cross, we realize that we’re not alone in our suffering. We have a Lord who has suffered for us, and who suffers with us. This can be for us a source of consolation and strength.
Second, staying at the foot of the cross helps us to think not only about ourselves, something so easy to do when we suffer. By being at the cross, Mary was able to comfort her Son, in spite of her own pain. Her witness can teach us to be compassionate too.
Third, keeping the cross in sight reminds us that it was followed by an empty tomb- which is a cause for joy. As Mary learned, sorrow and joy can coexist, and sorrow will never have the final word. Through her witness, Our Lady of Sorrows embodies for us what Mother Teresa once wrote so beautifully: “Never let anything cause you so much sorrow that you forget the joy of Christ risen!”
Readings for today's Mass: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091511.cfm