Today the church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary receives the title “The Sorrowful Mother” because she symbolizes love and steadfastness in the face of extreme suffering. For this feast day the church uses John’s gospel account of the crucifixion. It is the only gospel that specifically mentions Mary at the foot of the cross, to emphasize her devotion to her son through his time of greatest suffering and even after his death. While the synoptic gospels simply mention women watching from a distance, John’s Gospel focuses on Mary’s presence close to her son, displaying her faithfulness and love despite the unbearable sorrow she experienced.
Reading this gospel, Mary’s faithfulness stands out. Mary may be sad, but she stays at the foot of the cross. Her heart may be pierced, but she remains with her son. She may be overwhelmed with suffering, but she waits by her son until the end. In the midst of this, Jesus entrusts his mother to his disciple John. Jesus takes care of her in her sorrow.
Once again we can learn from Mary’s example. Is there something in our lives that is causing sadness? Are we overwhelmed with life? Perhaps we have friends or family members who are suffering, and our hearts are breaking. Can we rely on Jesus in the same way Mary did? Can we remain near to him in our suffering and trust that we too will be taken care of?
—Sharron Deax Hanisch earned a Master of Theological Studies degree from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. She is the mother of four children and coordinates Diversified Pastoral Ministries at the Church of St. Mary, Tulsa, OK.