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.
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.