This morning is the second in a pair of days when the readings lead us to reflection on the suffering surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus – but today the focus is on his mother, Mary of Nazareth. This feast of “Our Lady of Sorrows” reminds us that the incarnation did not simply affect the lives of those who became followers of Jesus. Jesus was part of a human family whose parents had to deal with a great deal of mystery in their lives, much of which we can only conjecture since the Scriptures tell us very little. If memory serves me, there are only 13 texts in the gospels that even mention Mary – many of them very brief. Sometimes I like to think of different moments in her life and how she must’ve dealt with what was unfolding as her son’s mission – which was also in a real sense hers. We can intuit her acceptance of God’s choice of her as we read the early chapters of Luke’s gospel. From the time she learned that she was pregnant to the visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth, she had grown from a small-town teenager to a woman who had come to realize that her life would not be simple or of her own choosing. This morning we read that “standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (JN 19:25).This was, of course, the most tragic moment of her life, watching her innocent son tortured to death.
Mothers throughout history have suffered for their children in many situations and places. This morning my mind goes immediately to three mothers – two American and one British – whose innocent sons have recently been murdered in the worst type of violence imaginable. These mothers – and other, similarly grief-stricken women – will be the focus of my sorrow and my prayer today that such violence may soon be overcome and that the world’s nations will come to value peace over power and love over domination.