As I meditate on the Passion of Jesus, my thoughts inevitably turn to Mary. Any of us who are mothers know the feeling of watching our children suffer. Sometimes we can help, kiss the boo boo, make everything better. Sometimes we can be a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes we can do nothing at all but pray, pray, pray. I’ve watched my children suffer because of their own actions and that’s hard enough, but when they’ve suffered at the hands of another, that’s something different altogether. The Mama Bear in me springs up and I’m are ready to speak, to defend, to fight, to act.
Mary did not have that choice. Watching her baby as he was unjustly accused, spat upon, beaten, mocked, tortured, and finally, killed, it was all she could do to remain quiet. She understood what it was all for, who it was all for, and though she was at times just inches away from Jesus, she could do nothing but hold his gaze, and remind him he was not alone in his distress.
That takes a kind of strength I do not have. We want to flee from pain, from the face of it, or we want to act to alleviate it. To remain steady, present, unwavering, and silent must have been unbearable. Still, she bore it. The ‘Mary’ we see in most art doesn’t capture the ferocity and strength she must have had, but Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ comes close. Her crumpled son lying in her arms, Mary was one of the very few that remained until he took his last breath, for you and for me. The end of the film, ‘The Passion of the Christ’, depicts the ‘Pieta’ in human form, but here Mary gazes, not down at her son, but out at you and me, challenging us.
Do you see what he has done for you? Do not turn away from this. Remember.
And that’s what we do today. We remember. The word literally means ‘to make a part of ourselves, again”; we re-member. This takes time and prayer and sacrifice and ritual and community, and even at our best, we can only come close. But we’re challenged just the same. Make the sacrifice of Jesus a living part of you and let that unfathomable love direct your thoughts and your steps from this day forward. He did nothing wrong, yet still he suffered in agony, for you and me. If you were his mother, you’d be shouting it from the rooftops, even today. Do you hear her? Still, she calls.