The Fourth Sorrow of Mary: Mary Meets Jesus on the Via Dolorosa

The Fourth Sorrow of Mary: Mary Meets Jesus on the Via Dolorosa December 15, 2017




It is not going to be all right.

It is not going to be all right.

Mothers: recall to yourselves how it feels when your child is suffering and you can’t make it stop.

Now remember that Miriam was the perfect mother. Miriam loved her only Son with the fierceness, the tenacity, the ardor of all the hearts of all the mothers in all the world. There has never been a mother who loved as she loved. There has never been a Son more worthy of love, and Miriam loved Him perfectly.

She carried Him from Nazareth into the hill country to meet the prophet and his mother who was also a prophet. She carried Him into Bethlehem; there she gave birth to Him in the stable, brought Him to the temple and showed Him to the Magi. That was so long ago, when she was a young woman, and now she is old.

She carried Him to Egypt during that terrible flight. She cared for Him there for three years. She brought Him back to Nazareth and raised Him there. She searched for Him in the temple for three days; she saw Him speaking with the teachers of the Law, and rejoiced. She raised Him until He was a man and lived with Him until He left to preach the fulfillment of the prophecies of old.

She went with Him. She must have– Jesus was the perfect Son, and a Son does not abandon His widowed mother. He must have taken her with Him. She couldn’t have been present suddenly at the end unless she was with Him all along. Miriam didn’t say very much during this time, not much that was passed down to us. Her great assent to the Father’s will had already been given, and she remained faithful to that assent. Her canticle of the weak being raised above the strong had already been sung, and she remained faithful to that canticle.  She stayed by His side, she listened to His word, and she loved Him perfectly.

Jesus said “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” 

Miriam did the will of the Heavenly Father. She was His perfect disciple, with Him until the end. And so we know that Miriam was His mother, not only according to the flesh but according to His teaching as well.

Now, at the end of things, on the darkest and most terrible day, where are His Mother, His brothers and sisters?

His brothers, His brothers according to His new commandment, the disciples He did not call slaves but friends, fell asleep and left Him to suffer alone; then they were scattered, and fled. Judas betrayed Him, Mark ran away naked, Peter denied even knowing Him. John the Beloved, the very youngest, is here somewhere. His sisters who came to minister to Him are gone– all except Mary Magdalene, the scandalous woman who had been possessed by seven demons. She is here somewhere. And Miriam is here. Miriam never ran away. She never hid, betrayed or denied. She was faithful all along.

Every blow that landed on His body landed on Her heart. She was His mother, the perfect Mother, and that is how a mother loves.

She hadn’t been where He could see her. The crowds were too thick for that. She’d watched Him tortured for hours, and not been able to do anything but suffer with Him.

She would gladly have suffered everything in His place, but she couldn’t.

She had to watch.

And then, for the first time, on the road to Calvary, she was able to stand where He could see her.

He could barely see anything at all, of course. His blood was in His eyes and all over His face; he was beyond dehydrated, and might have died of thirst at any moment; the pain was more than He could bear. His vision swam. He saw stars. He could focus on nothing. It seemed as though He only moved forward because of the Romans’ whips, though really it was because of His love for all He had come to save.

And then He saw her.

They looked at one another.

She could say nothing. There was nothing to say. He had prophesied this day. They both knew it was bound to happen, and now it was upon them. The perfect woman had given birth to the perfect man. The perfect mother had borne Love Himself. The one the angel greeted as a queen had borne the King of mercy. And this is how sinful men and women treat love and mercy.  It could only end this way.

She wanted to say “It’s going to be all right,” but it wasn’t.

It was not going to be all right.

He was going to die in agony, and there was nothing she could do.

She had carried Him to Egypt and raised Him in hiding to keep Him safe from Rome, but Rome had found Him. Rome was going to win. By all accounts, by every earthly reckoning, she had failed.

And so her Son continued to cause the rise and fall of many. Now, whenever we see a condemned man, we see the Lord of Heaven and Earth. And when we see a person the world counts as an absolute failure, we see His mother.

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

Steel Magnificat will be meditating on the Sorrows and Joys of Mary throughout Saint Philip’s Fast. Previous entries can be found here: 

The First Joy     The First Sorrow

The Second Joy    The Second Sorrow

The Third Joy   The Third Sorrow

The Fourth Joy

The Fifth Joy

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