And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
It’s dreadful to imagine Mary witnessing her son, beaten, bloodied, and nearly abandoned by his friends, die slowly at the hands of corrupt authority. Yet despite the darkness, the image of Mary heartbroken and standing with her dying child vividly illustrates the grace to lovingly accompany the suffering despite our own brokenness. Retreatants making the Spiritual Exercises pray for this grace as they follow their beloved friend Jesus through his gruesome Passion. It’s also the grace we see in the mother sitting beside a hospital bed, holding her daughter’s bruised and pierced hand as she recovers from a risky surgery.
Mary, the stabat mater, or ‘mother who was standing,” demonstrates the love and compassion that remains when our only recourse is to simply be present with the one who suffers.
—Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy
Let me spend my life near thee, O Mother,
to keep thee company in thy solitude and deepest grief;
let me feel in my soul the sadness of thine eyes
and the abandonment of thy heart.
On life’s highway I do not seek the gladness of Bethlehem;
I do not wish to adore the Infant God in thy virginal hands,
nor to enjoy the winsome presence of Jesus
in thy humble home of Nazareth,
nor to mingle with the angelic choirs in thy glorious Assumption.
My wish in life is for the jeers and derision of Calvary;
for the slow agony of thy Son,
for the contempt, the disgrace and infamy of the Cross.
My wish, O most sorrowful Virgin, is to stand near thee,
to strengthen my soul through thy tears,
to complete my offering through thy martyrdom,
to temper my heart through thy solitude,
and to love my God and thy God through my self-sacrifice.
—Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, SJ, published in Hearts on Fire: Praying JesuitsPlease share the Good Word with your friends!