Station IV: Christ Meets His Mother Mary
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed. (Luke 2:34-35)
What ties of maternal love must have bound Mary to Jesus! Imagine her wonder at carrying the Messiah in her womb for nine months. This child of promise who would save her nation. Conceived in her by the power of God. Announced by a terrifying heavenly messenger. Such a responsibility and such ever present dangers!
The harrowing delivery in a stable. Those shepherds, the lowliest of the low, who were the first to welcome him. Then, strange star-gazers from the East, gentiles from lands she never knew existed. There was the flight to Egypt. The long-awaited redeemer of Israel, taking his first steps as a refugee among an alien people, who worshipped strange gods! Finally, the return to Nazareth but never to a normal family life.
As the strange events of Christ's childhood unfolded, Mary must often have pondered those haunting words from the holy man, Simeon, when they dedicated the infant Jesus to God in the Temple of Jerusalem.
The Mother of the Messiah would feel the sword first prick her heart twelve years later, when the boy Jesus had gone missing during another pilgrimage to Jerusalem and his distraught parents had looked for him everywhere, only to find him engaged in debate in the Temple. The young Jesus had dismissed their concern, telling them they should have known he would be “about his father’s business (Luke 2:49)."
Once Jesus’ ministry begins, Mary fades from view. References to her in the Gospels are few, and when you read them, you get the feeling Christ is trying to keep his mother at a distance, forcing her to understand he is not really her son anymore. In Luke 8:19-21, Mary and Jesus’ brothers show up at one of his public appearances, wanting to see him. He sends back the message that his real mother and brothers are those who “hear the word of God and do it.”
There is no mention in the Bible of a meeting between Mary and Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, but it is not hard to imagine such a devoted mother would have dogged her son's steps on the road to Golgotha, wincing at every whiplash, crying out in pain as the blade foretold by Simeon ran clean through her own soul.
We know Mary did come to see herself not only as the mother of Jesus but also his disciple. Luke the Evangelist tells us in Acts 1:14 that after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the men who remained from his inner circle gathered together in an upper room “with one accord in constant prayer and supplication” to await the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. And “with them the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brethren.” Mother of Christ. Mother of the Church.
When I lose what I love in this life, help me, like Mary, to endure the pain by opening my heart completely to you. Amen.