Friday, September 16, 2005
Our Lady of Sorrows  

Yesterday, September 15th, was the feast of our Lady of Sorrows. The feast recalls the spiritual martyrdom of our Lady. There are seven specific sorrows which are based on Scripture upon which devotion is focused:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:22-35)
2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:19-23)
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)
4. Mary meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion (John 19:17, 25-27)
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Her Son
7. The Burial of Her Son and Closing of the Tomb (John 19:28-42)

It is easy to forget that part of God's plan for our lives is the allowance for suffering to occur. Most of the time we are not ready to accept suffering. Instead we rail against, blaming somebody, including God, for what we are experiencing.

Our Lady shows us the way to accept suffering. Because she was without sin, her suffering was not the kind that we often face, which is based on our own bad decisions. Instead, she experienced the suffering which was part of the Divine plan for her life. She had no control over what came her way. She could only control her response to the suffering.

Imagine her in the Temple with her 40-day old son Jesus. Joseph and she have brought him to the Temple in Jerusalem where they are met by Simeon who by the power of the Holy Spirit recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah. He prophesies about Jesus as the savior. Then he lets Mary know that she will suffer along with her Son.

Consider Mary and Joseph soon after Jesus' birth are commanded by an angel who appears to Joseph to fly to Egypt because Jesus' life is in danger. This was no small trip for Holy Family. They may not have known anyone in the Jewish community where they settled in Egypt. The trip itself had its own dangers because of robbers who would prey upon people traveling the trade routes.

Young mothers can relate to the experience of losing a child even as Mary did when Jesus remained behind in the Temple when His family returned to Nazareth. How her heart must have been breaking as Joseph and she looked for Him over those three days. When He was found, He made it clear that God, His heavenly Father, was the One Who was leading His life. He remained subject to Joseph and Mary as part of God's plan, but He would always be about His Father's business.

After He has begun His ministry, Mary knew where it was all headed--Jesus' sacrifice for the sins of the world. That knowledge would not be enough to comfort her when she sees her Son carrying the cross upon which He would be crucified.

Mary stands at the foot of the cross watching helplessly as her Son is put to death. She knows that He does this of His own accord. He has laid down His life. However, despite this understanding, the sword of Simeon's prophecy must have made the deepest wound at this point.

After He has died, she holds the body of her Son. How can a mother ever be expected to hold the body of her child? Especially such a Son who, although He only desired to serve those He met, He was met with such hatred and jealousy that He was killed.

Finally, Mary sees her Son buried in a tomb. Quickly done because it is almost the Sabbath. The few people that are there were probably outnumbered by the Roman soldiers, His executioners. How difficult that must have been for her.

Mary understands suffering in a way that can only come from someone who has endured suffering and not sinned in response. She pondered, she prayed, and she persevered through what she experienced. She loved Jesus like no one else did. This was her Son to whom she had given birth. Yet she suffered as she saw all that He went through for her and for us.

It is good to have such feast days to remind us that God's plan for us includes plenty of suffering. He did not spare suffering for His own mother who never committed a sin. How much more should we expect to know suffering? Then also, we should know that we can ask Mary for her help to make it through suffering. She, along with Her Son, know the suffering we experience. Perhaps even just that knowledge alone can make our suffering more bearable.

Posted by David at 3:45 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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