Coming as it does on the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, today's observance of Our Lady of Sorrows gives us an opportunity to continue our reflection on the passion of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke includes Simeon’s prophecy about Mary’s life and the sorrows she would encounter.
Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows was popularized by the seven young men who formed the Order of the Servants of Mary, commonly known as the Servites. Their devotion to the Blessed Mother focused on the seven sorrows of the Blessed Mother: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple, Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary, Jesus dies on the cross, Jesus is taken down from the cross, and the burial of Jesus. Meditation on these seven events became especially popular during the Second World War when thousands of mothers gathered on Friday to mourn the loss of their sons in battle.
Today, mothers may encounter many other kinds of sorrow. I think of the mother living in poverty who gives birth for the first time, facing a difficult life ahead; the mothers whose children have disappeared in crowds and fear they may have been kidnapped, or whose children are taken from her at border crossings. There are also mothers who must see their sons accused of crimes they did not commit and sentenced to death, and there are mothers who must watch their sons brutally tortured and put to death for their beliefs. So, despite Mary’s many sorrows, she is not alone in the world of sorrows.
Mary is a model of faith to be respected and revered. What is so obvious in Mary’s life is that no matter the sorrows she experienced, she continued to praise God because her faith in God was so strong. Continuously, despite many sorrows, her soul magnifies the Lord. She knew that there was a reason her life worked out as it did. She had faith that her life was part of something so much bigger. It wasn’t just about her, it was about the victory over the cross. Mary is a model of suffering as she inspires us to place our own human suffering in the context of God’s love for us and redemptive plan for all of humanity. Putting our pain in the perspective of Christ’s pain on our behalf lifts us up out of sorrow if our faith is strong.
(Some of the ideas for this homily came from Barbara Dilly.)
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator