I have a blog post in the works that I will post after we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord — and I think it will be a great post to kick off the Easter season!
Today is Holy Thursday. This evening will mark the end of Lent and the beginning of the Pascal Triduum. It is during this time that we should pause to reflect on all of those moments leading up to the crucifixion. All the actions, words, betrayals, tears, and the brutal sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.
Even though I grew up Catholic, Holy Week wasn’t really something we took time to pause and reflect on. All of that changed for me several years back.
My husband and I were struggling to conceive, my step-dad, and also a very dear friend and co-worker of mine, were both battling colon cancer. It was through my sadness, disappointment, and grief that I was starting to cling to my Catholic faith – which a few year before, I nearly abandoned. I was praying for the intercession of Saints, praying the Rosary, I went to confession which didn’t turn out as I had hoped (my fault – but that is a story for another day), visited my favorite sanctuary, and started going to Mass more often than I ever had in years.
So, that year, I decided that I would go to Mass on Holy Thursday. I had never been before and I really didn’t understand what was going on. It was long, and there was just a lot happening, and yet sometimes, nothing was happening. It’s even hard to explain that now. I felt like a stranger, somewhere that I typically felt (for the most part) like I knew what was happening and what to expect next. It left me wanting to know more. This was the year I dipped my toe into Holy Week.
Fast forward several years, our twins were almost 6 years old and we were expecting our third son. Two years before, my husband had gone through RCIA, we had our marriage Convalidated, and we became regular Mass attenders. Lent became more and more special each year. However, this Lent was different than any other for me and one which I will always remember. It was the Lent when I met Mary at the foot of the Cross.
I know that may sound a bit strange. Especially, since Holy Week and the Triduum are focused on Jesus, of course. But when I took a moment to look at Mary, I discovered something about Jesus that I hadn’t really thought of before – He is not only our Lord, Son of God. He is not only fully divine — but fully man as well. He is Lord – but he is also Mary’s son.
How often have I seen photographs, painting, or statues of the infant Jesus cradled in His mother’s arms. A tender embrace of love. She fed him, snuggled him, and taught him how to do all those things that faithful, Jewish mothers of her day, taught their sons. There is very little information about Jesus’ childhood – but I can imagine all those moments that they shared together. Many of those things I even share with my own sons.
But Mary had to witness the Passion and death of her only Son. She watched in gut-wrenching, heart-crushing, soul-piercing, horror as her precious baby was dragged through the streets. He was beaten, spit on, ridiculed, and died — all as His mother watched; helpless to save Him.
I don’t know what Mary knew – but I do know she had an unwavering faith. She trusted the Lord with all her heart, soul, and mind. However, that doesn’t make having to witness the brutality against her Son any easier to watch.
That day, I believe that a sword did pierce through her own soul…just as Simeon had foretold. (Luke 2:35) I believe it because if I even let myself think for a second, about how I would feel having to watch that happen to one of my boys – it brings me instantly to tears.
When I think of that moment in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, where she and Mary Magdalene are taking rags and soaking up Jesus’ blood that was spilled out on the streets, that also brings me to tears.
I can’t begin to imagine what that was like for her. I can only look at her with my mother’s heart and meditate on what transpired that day. When I do I just want to hug her and hold her. I want to put my arms around her and cry with her…at the foot of the cross.
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. John 16:20
God’s Peace be with you!