A CALL TO SHARE IN JESUS’ PASSION LIKE HIS BLESSED MOTHER
First Reading: Hebrews 5:7-9
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 30(31):2-6,15-16,20
Gospel Reading: John 19:25-27
It is true that we live in an era where compassion is colossally lacking. Today’s memorial (of our Lady of Sorrows) teaches us true and consistent compassion. Today, we are called to adore Christ, the Saviour of the world who called His Mother to share in His passion (‘com-passion’); she, thus, becomes an example to us all, as one who suffers with Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI summed up the sentiment of today’s memorial: “Today, as we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, we contemplate Mary, who shares the Son’s compassion for sinners.” As Saint Bernard states, ‘the Mother of Christ entered the Passion of the Son through her compassion.’ This is what is illustrated in today’s readings.
The first reading from the letter to the Hebrews shows us the feelings of Jesus in his passion: “During His life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the One who had the power to save Him out of death (…) Although He was Son, He learnt to obey through suffering…” This passion of Jesus was imprinted in the heart of His Mother. The cries and the tears of her Son made her suffer in an atrocious way, but at the same time, she joined in the piety of Jesus, submitted, like Him, to the Will of the Father. This is what we see in today’s gospel. Here, Mary weeps before the tortured body of her Son at the foot of the Cross, sharing in his passion, as depicted in today’s gospel reading. This brief text is at the centre of the account of the “Presentation of Jesus in the temple.” Put differently, today’s gospel reading becomes a fulfilment of the prophecy of Simeon: “and a sword will pierce you own soul too…” (cf. Lk 2:35) as a result of the torture inflicted on her Innocent Son, born of her flesh. The “sword,” which pierces her soul and reaches the heart, foretells the sufferings and pains that Mary shares with her Son.
For all of this, Mary’s compassion is true: she shared in the suffering of her Son and accepted, with Him, the Father’s Will, in an attitude of obedience that overcomes suffering. This is a strong lesson for us, who, for most of the time, possess superficial compassion. We need to have Mary’s faith in order to show true compassion for the sufferings endured by our Blessed Lord for humanity, and also extend this compassion to our brethren in need. Today’s readings should make us think of suffering, which continues to be a reality in the individual and collective history of humanity. Dear friends in Christ, how important it is for us to learn from Mary! In the midst of life’s difficulties, pains and anguish, it is pertinent to see beyond the pains with a look of faithfulness and trust in the Lord, as Mary did. Moreover, what was Mary’s attitude toward pain and suffering? She remained standing and firm. By sharing in her Son’s passion, she knew that her Son’s sufferings would bring about the redemption of the world. In other words, we can say that in the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there was pain, and at the same time, joy. Pain, because her only treasure was subjected to a shameful death on the cross by the cruelty and injustice of men. Joy because she knew it was for the redemption of humanity and with the certainty that her Son would rise as he had promised.
On this day, therefore, I invite us to look at Our Lady of Sorrows and learn from her in order to remain faithful to God before our daily crosses, with a look of faith and hope in the promises of God. Pain often makes us stronger, mature; thus, preparing us for the future. Our lesson today is to imitate the faith of our Blessed Mother Mary who was faithful to the end even in the midst of sorrows and pains; just as the letter to the Hebrews asks us to imitate the faith of our “elders in the faith” who spoke God’s Word to us (cf. Heb. 13:7). This is a sure way of inheriting eternal life. Thus, when we find ourselves in these challenging situations, may our prayers be like today’s Psalmist: “Save me, O Lord, in your steadfast love. In you, O Lord, I take refuge. Let me never be put to shame.”
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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