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A Mother Knows Best

I only watched The Passion of the Christ once. I may watch it again one day...but I think once was enough for the time being. When I watched this movie, I wasn't moved by the violence. I wasn't moved by some of the scenes that may have moved many of my other fellow followers of Christ. However, I was moved to tears by the sight of a mother weeping for her child. The bond between our Blessed Mother and her son Jesus Christ is, I feel, one of the most beautiful and intimate bonds within the Scripture.

On the Miraculous  Medal, you see two hearts close together, one of which is pierced by a sword. This symbolizes Mary's heart...which was in complete agony, no doubt, when her only son was nailed to a cross. Yes, he was born to die for our sins. Yes, Christ did save us. However, there is still so much pain in this story. Mary watched her son die for us and probably looked upon him with different eyes than all others present at the crucifixion. She probably saw more than a carpenter-turned preacher. She probably looked up at his bloodied, bruised, and pierced body and saw the things she had seen throughout her life...

She probably saw him as a baby...born to the song of angels and adoration of shepherds as well as wise men.
She probably saw him as a child, taking his first steps as her own hands prevented him from stumbling.
She probably remembered the panic that gripped her when he went missing...before he was found in the temple.
She probably remembered how he had impressed the temple scholars with his knowledge.
She probably saw him as a young man, in her husband's shop...learning carpentry under the care of Joseph.
She probably remembered hearing news of her son's preaching...and the fear she had felt since John the Baptist was killed.
She probably wished she had more time to spend with her son as he gasped his last breaths.
She probably felt every pain he had suffered...just as many mothers today feel for their own children.

As any mother would, she grieved for her lost child with some of the same raw human emotions that we feel today when we lose loved ones. If there is one work of art that evokes these feelings and captures a lot of what I am trying to describe right now...it is the Pieta by Michelangelo. This statue, in my opinion, captures the emotions and story behind the beautiful relationship between Christ and his mother. In this sculpture, you see a mother mourning the loss of her son. She cradles the body of a murdered son, grieving silently with her eyes cast down. She is not looking upon her son's accusers. She is not staring up a the heavens in anguish. She is not crying out to God. She isn't questioning how fair or unfair. She isn't accusing others. She isn't covering her face as she sobs. She isn't screaming in agony, though her heart is broken and experiencing a grief that will never be understood by so many.
Pietà by Michelangelo
She has a serene countenance. She is grieving the loss of her son...but she is steadfast when it comes to trusting God. Her son is gone, but she knows that he lives on. She knows Christ better than the apostles did. Christ chose the apostles. God chose the mother. God made his works known to her before Christ brought back the dead, made the blind see, etc. Mary was 30 years ahead of the rest of the world when it came to knowing...not just hearing about it...but KNOWING that salvation was at hand.


In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;for nothing will be impossible for God."Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

I don't know about you, but when I read this...I see that the Annunciation is FULL of good news. There isn't a word of Crucifixion in it, but there's plenty of good news. We see God giving Christ a kingdom. We see a child that will one day be considered holy. We see a child that will rule over the house of Jacob... We see that Mary has found favor with God. We see that her son will have a never-ending kingdom. In short, we see so much good news...not just for Mary but for all those who would read this passage in millennia to come. There is no "Christ is crucified...the end" here.
 "And of his kingdom there will be no end."
This simple sentence is amazing. It demonstrates that God has everything planned in an eternal fashion. Christ's victory will not be temporal since his reign is eternal. Perhaps Mary remembered this sentence when Christ was hanging on a cross and struggling to fight the pain and the fatigue associated with his death. Perhaps this gave her strength and helped her hold on to her hope and faith. Yet, even if her son was born to rule eternal kingdoms and even if God has such great things in store for him, she cannot help but feel for him as he died on the cross. Her heart will be torn by his suffering. Her heart will be torn by his loss from her life...temporary as it was.

I imagine that Mary loved Christ for far longer than the majority of people present at his crucifixion. She knew him for his entire life....from baby to man. The apostles only knew him for a couple of years and loved him. Mary, on the other hand, must have loved him even more. Think about it. She saw him as a mother, a follower, and one whose innocence was complete. She didn't have our sinful nature and could, therefore, see Christ through a clearer light. As a result, her love of Christ had to have been so much greater. 

Michelangelo must have had quite a few things in mind when he sculpted this gorgeous masterpiece. I mean, you see the pain, the complete trust in God, a deep serenity surrounded by the weight of sin's expense.....the loss of a life...and the ultimate triumph of Christ over sin. Yes Christ has died...but his mother still holds onto him with trust, hope, and all the faith necessary to accept God's will....regardless of how painful it may be.

Pax Vobiscum

2 comments:

  1. Hello! We follow your blog and I (John) am a recent convert to the Catholic faith (grew up Lutheran and married as a Lutheran). We learn so much keeping up with your blog! I was hoping to send this you via email or comment box, but I couldn't find either on your blog. I wanted to share a resource for Catholic gifts with you that maybe you could share on the blog? It is BlessedSources.org I used this coupon for 20% off good for July: http://www.retailmenot.com/view/blessedsources.org

    Thank you and keep up the good work!

    God Bless,
    John and Jinny

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  2. Welcome home and thanks for checking out my blog.

    I am still new to the blogging business so I just have the comment sections right now (hoping to change this soon). I am hoping to change this once I start learning the tricks of the trade.

    Thank you for sharing the link. I glanced over the site and it seemed like a pretty cool idea. I don't really have a policy on sites yet (again, still new to the blogosphere)...but will keep this site in consideration in case I ever get around to posting "favorite sites."

    Barbara

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