Botticelli. Madonna del Magnificat. Uffizi Galleries.
Mary, the young Jewish girl God chose to birth Jesus into the world, lived out her life with unspeakable anguish and sorrow. Only pure and simple faith enabled her to say yes to God when the one thing she understood immediately was the cost she would have to pay. She knew her parents would reject her in their humiliation, her neighbors would smirk and call her a liar, and her fiancé would abandon her. Nevertheless, her answer to the angel’s startling pronouncement was, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” 1. She accepted, pondered, and waited in simple faith—and she did it to the bitter end.
Mary’s willing suffering is an enigma to us. What young mother carries the burden of knowing her baby’s destiny will be brutal humiliation, torture, and early death? How did she live knowing so many of her neighbors’ babies were murdered simply because her baby existed?2How did she keep the faith as she walked with him towards Jerusalem, knowing it would be to his passion and death? How did she hold on to trust as she was crushed in the rabid crowd screaming for his murder? How did she not drown in fury as she watched most of his best friends desert him? How did she endure when they stripped, whipped, and humiliated him? How did she not collapse at the pounding of the nails into his tortured flesh? She did not succumb but stood strong, rooted under the cross of all suffering humanity. As he drew in his last tormented breath, her precious son looked down from the cross at her and his dearest friend, John, still standing there and said, “Mother, John will be a son to you.” And to John, he said, “John, she will be your mother.” 3 At that moment, Mary became mother to us all.
As mothers, we can stand with Mary in silence and anguish, refusing fear as we watch our children and loved ones suffer. We can cling to love and hope, trusting with her strength that this is the suffering they must endure and their only path to Life. We, too, carry the kingdom of heaven within our mortal bodies. We, too, can stand in darkness and birth Love into the world. From this wombing place in our broken hearts, rivers of living water will gather and flow out to everyone around us.
“Many, many people come to the altar, but few find their way to the foot of the cross. Only John the beloved and the three Marys were there when our Lord was crucified—fear had scattered the rest. Jesus leads us to the foot of the cross, and then we are drawn into the cross. There we die to all that is false and become one with Him. It is when we pass through the cross that our hearts are softened by a profound compassion that embraces the whole world. We have finally passed through ourselves and transcended the things of the world that would keep us in bondage.”From The Hidden Life Awakened pp214-215.