Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)
The day following the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows: the Holy Mother of God bearing the pain of her Son’s death. The feast reminds us to act, like Mary, to stand by the Cross and to hold in adoration the Crucified Lord. This is the drama of the mystery of suffering. Mary says nothing. Love doesn’t always need words. To speak words would be barbarous. Silence is the best response.
In fact, Mary’s dramatic action is what the Gospel records: she ‘was standing by the Cross’. Standing by in silence ought to be our position, too, because we are called to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord in contemplating the height and depth of His agony. Going deeper is accessed in and by silence. Her gift on this feast is the example of contemplation.
Making sense of this feast we need to comprehend the extent and suffering of Our Lady viz. the depth of love between mother and son. Love, the concern for the destiny of another, is the key.
From experience we know that every person who suffers finds Mary always beside him or her. A Mother does not abandon her children, even less in time of suffering. Can you imagine a mother not being present at the beside of her sick daughter? Calvary is impossible to experience without grace; we need the presence of someone who knows what is entailed in being faithful to the path given to us to walk.
Mary, Mother of Sorrows, may I be a comfort for Jesus if He can look down from the Cross and find you, His Mother, and me, holding your hand, “standing by the Cross”.