Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Sept.15. Lectionary # 639. Sorrows of Our Lady. Hebrews 5:7-9.
Psalm 31:2-3,3-4,5-6, 15-16.20. Sequence of Stabat Mater, and choice of
John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35.
Luke narrates the event of Jesus’ presentation in the temple forty days
after his birth and how the holy Simeon approaches the mother of Jesus and
says, “This child shall be a sign of contradiction (the Cross)…and you
yourself shall be pierced with a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts
may be laid bare.”
These words of Simeon are said at Compline each night as the prayer of the
Church. It is called the Nunc Dimittis or Now you dismiss your servant.
By these words it is natural for us to recall the scene at the foot of the
Cross and the Feast of the Cross that we celebrated yesterday. We use the
common expression “like mother, like son” that is easily seen in the
association of the two feasts celebrating Jesus’ sorrowful death and the
compassion of his mother at the foot of the Cross.
Mary is said to be standing next to the Cross with the Beloved Disciple.
They are not separated by the Cross but are side by side according to the
Scriptures. This shows their union with one another and the last testament
of Jesus to both the disciple and to his mother. It is an entrustment to
carry on what Jesus has begun. Our being united with Mary and the Beloved
Disciple helps us to cooperate in the mission of bringing Jesus to others
by being inspired as she was in her cooperation with the Holy Spirit both
at the Annunciation and now at the Cross. The Church is being formed as
Jesus breathes upon those two who are bonded through his love. Certainly,
her heart is pierced in this death of her son but she stands with the
disciple to continue his life among us in the Church.
Mothers understand their own sufferings through her in those tragic events
of losing a son, a daughter, a newborn, or a child. A Marianist brother
once happened to be in a cemetery where all the people buried there were
Baptists. He saw a woman bent over a grave and near it a statue of Mary.
He dared to ask the woman why is that statue there. She replied, “Because
she understands what I am going through in the death of my son.” Yes, Mary
is not a mere symbol here. Mothers are the most real of persons and events
like this and they understand what Mary went through. She is the image of
the suffering Body of Christ, the Church. She offers thoughts in the heart
of mothers who have lost sons and daughters in wars that continue on and
on. With her and these mothers we are able to fathom the mysteries of
salvation through the death of Jesus.
We have an opportunity of entering into the feelings of this mother through
the late middle age hymn called the Stabat Mater. It is a poetic hymn in
Latin that has been put in prose and poetry in English. Here we can review
the thoughts of Mother Mary as did the author in this magnificent sequence.
This should help us to feel the sufferings of Mary that continue in so many
mothers in today’s society and world.
The Servites of Mary have a Church in Chicago dedicated to Our Lady of
Seven Sorrows. They are : prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the
loss of Jesus in the temple, the meeting with Jesus on the way to Calvary,
the crucifixion of Jesus, the descent from the Cross, and the burial of
In one of the older Rules of Life of the Marianists this teaching is found:
“The life of a Christian and with all the more reason that of a person
consecrated to God, is necessarily a penitential life, since it is a
reproduction of the life of Jesus and Mary. The Savior of the world came as
a victim, he lived in privations, he died in sorrows. The same sword
pierced the heart of his divine Mother.” Amen.