Do you think Mary ever had a conversation with Jesus about the death of his cousin, John the Baptist? Mary might have asked, “Son, wasn’t there anything you could have done to save your poor cousin’s life — at least you could have spared him such a gruesome death. Jesus, I feel awful for his followers. How traumatic to bury the remains of John’s body. Help me understand, son, why you let all of this happen.”

Yet Mary understood that John’s death was a precursor to her son’s horrific fate. Sometimes we call out to Mary about the inconceivable hurt, tragedy, loss in our own lives. We don’t understand the why for the suffering. How bizarre that John the Baptist would suffer such a hideous death just to placate Herod’s selfish, vengeful wife. It seems almost a travesty of John’s life.

Yet we hold to our Lord’s promise. Nothing will separate us from his love. While we are vulnerable, we cling to his life preserving love that never abandons us — despite the surface reality. Though we don’t understand why we must endure suffering, our faith assures us that suffering and death will not have the last word. Somehow through it all we will arrive at a deeper understanding of our life’s purpose. We will find a way through because we will keep our eyes fixed on “The Way.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team