Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Lady of Sorrows

Readings for Wednesday, September 15/Our Lady of Sorrows:
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Psalm 33:2-5, 12, 22
John 19:25-27

Yesterday the Church celebrated the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Today we remember Our Lady of Sorrows, who knelt at the foot of that glorious Cross. Ever since I first became aware of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows, I have been drawn to her. In my journey of faith there have been times when I experienced some particular suffering and couldn’t understand why things were the way they were, and that was really tough. But to know that Mary, too, experienced great pain and sorrow unlike any we can ever know, makes her real to me.

As a seminarian, I have often encountered people who don’t know how to respond to trials and suffering. Many atheists will say they can’t believe in God because no God who is truly good would allow suffering as it exists in the world. I too once held that belief, and, since my conversion, have struggled at times to have faith in the face of trials. But what it comes down to is what St. Paul says in the first reading – we see dimly now, but in the future will see fully. As Mary knelt at the foot of the Cross, I’m sure she had faith the Christ would rise from the dead as He has said He would. And I’m sure she had faith that she would be rejoined to Him. And yet she experienced great sorrow because, regardless of the amount of faith one has, we necessarily experience the pain because we still see only dimly. We cannot grasp the whole picture.

In this world, then, where we seen dimly and experience the sorrow and pain of life, it is a great blessing to have Our Lady of Sorrows here to join with us. If you notice, the gospel passage says that ‘the disciple’ was with Mary. The name is not noted. It is believed that John, being the author of the gospel, didn’t want to point himself out. But some add to this the idea that the person of ‘the disciple’ is where we are to place ourselves into the story. We are there with Mary, joining in her sorrow and allowing her to share in ours, both at the feet of Jesus.

One of the priests who taught me in the seminary always gave homework at the end of his homilies, so I’m going to follow his example and give y’all a little homework. At some point today, set aside five or ten minutes and really put yourself in the place of the disciple at the foot of the cross. Share your sorrows with Mary and experience her sorrows yourself. And then listen to the last words Jesus speaks to you personally: “Behold, your mother.”