This is the seventh part of a series that follows the biblical story of Mary throughout May. To honor her during her month, we are diving deeper into the mysteries of the Rosary that mention Mary in the corresponding Scripture passage—and reflecting on the Blessed Mother’s role through the Gospels.
Need to catch up? You can find the other parts of the series here: Part One: The Annunciation, Part Two: The Visitation, Part Three: The Nativity, Part Four: The Presentation, Part Five: Finding Jesus, Part Six: Wedding at Cana.
The bed on which my son lay was soft and clean, not rough like the Cross. And the instruments that pierced his flesh were instruments of healing, not of death. Yet as I sat there, unable to hold my baby, helpless to stop his pain or soothe his labored breathing, I could not stop crying.
What did he do to deserve this? Nothing. What if he dies? Why is this happening? I could not stop the questions any more than I could stop the tears.
Years later, praying the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary, I remember that scene. What must it have been like for Mary, standing by the Cross? Unable to hold her son or even wipe his brow; unable to fix anything; knowing her son deserves none of what is being done to him; knowing he will die?
Mother of All Disciples
Entering mentally into that scene, I can feel the horror. I can understand why many people “stood at a distance”—and equally, I know why Mary stood up close.
“Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
There is no room for hesitation when your son or someone you love that much is suffering. You must be there with him.
The Church tells us that Mary stood at the Cross “in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the Cross, as a mother to his disciple” (Lumen Gentium, 58) and, by extension, to all disciples of Christ.
Be It Done Unto Me
I wish I had known Mary as my mother twenty years ago. Today, I bring my sorrows and burdens to the foot of the Cross and I find her there, waiting. Her presence offers comfort so solid I can feel it: not only the comfort of one who has “been there,” but also the comfort of one who has been through the worst and out the other side, one who knows personally the truth and glory of heaven.
In prayer, I look up to the Cross. I hear Jesus say to his mother, “Woman, behold, your daughter!” It’s as though he says to her, “take your eyes off of me for a moment—and look at one I love, for whom I die.”
Then he says to me, “Look: ‘Behold, your mother!'” We cling to one another, and love begins to swallow up the pain. She knows, if I’ve forgotten, how the story ends and where I’m headed. She gives me strength to offer my own fiat. “Be it done unto me according to your word, O Lord.”
Read and meditate on John 19:23-27.
What does it mean to you, that Jesus gives us his mother, as ours? What’s an instance in which you have felt her loving maternal care? Is there some sorrow, some pain, some trial it would help you to bring to her now?
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About Sarah Christmyer
Sarah Christmyer is co-developer with Jeff Cavins of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program. She is author or co-author of a number of the studies. Sarah has thirty years of experience leading and teaching Bible studies. She helped launch Catholic Scripture Study and is co-author of “Genesis Part I: God and His Creation” and “Genesis Part II: God and His Family,” published by Emmaus Road. Raised in a strong evangelical family, she was received into the Catholic Church in 1992. Sarah also writes at comeintotheword.com.