“Woman, behold, your son.”

Fittingly, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows follows the Exaltation of the Cross.  The gospel passage brings us to the foot of the cross, a few moments before Jesus’ death (Jn 19:25-27).  Mary, John, and some other women were with the Lord in His final agony.  From the cross, Jesus tells Mary the words above and then gives His mother to His dear apostle and friend John (who was to become the writer of this gospel).  We are told that from that moment, John became her caretaker.  These four short words of Jesus to His mother are extraordinarily rich.  “Woman” takes us back to Gen 3:15 with the promise of a “New Eve” whose offspring will crush demons.  “Behold your son”: Mary’s pierced heart sees her Son on the cross, totally following God’s will, giving Him up for our sakes.  Must she not have recalled the Annunciation, the visit to her cousin, Jesus’ birth, the visiting shepherds and Magi, His formative years, losing Him in Jerusalem, seeing Him off to His public ministry, His first miracle at Cana, and His many sermons and miracles.  Yes, she beheld her Son for thirty-odd years and she knew she was to behold Him again.  Yet this didn’t make the pain she felt at that moment, a suffering completely in union with her Son’s suffering, any less intense.  Then she looked at her son in the faith, John, who was to take care of her for her remaining days.  The only apostle to stay with the Lord until the end.  How grateful she must have been for his strength and ongoing commitment.  And finally, she beheld all of her children.  Just as Eve is the mother of all the living, Mary is the mother of the Church, of all those who live in Christ.  How she must grieve at the corruption and unfaithfulness of a world that her Son died for.  Let us comfort her by praying for her intercession, particularly by recourse to the rosary, for the conversion of society so that all might be washed clean by the copious blood that poured out of the Lamb (cf. Rev 7:14).

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