Close your eyes for a moment just to imagine how difficult it was for Mary, the mother of Jesus, to watch her Son, Jesus, be brutally beaten, dragged through the streets, suffering excruciating torture, required to wear a crown of thorns, severely dehydrated and then hung on a cross with nails pounded in His wrists and feet dying after a spear was thrust into His side. As Mary watched, her heart must have felt each agonizing cry of pain. She heard his words as he died; “Into your hands I commend my Spirit!” Not only was her Son punished, but the cruelty He experienced being taunted and mocked and ridiculed must have cut deep in her soul while having to listen to those in the crowd shouting “Crucify Him!”
Mary remained by Jesus’ side from His first breath to His last, never wavering in her love for her Son. She, like most parents, is consumed with unconditional love for her child. It must have been sheer agony for Mary when Jesus’ body was pulled down from that cross and laid in the tomb. She willingly made a choice in accepting the role of mother of Jesus, our Holy Redeemer. She had to sense her mother’s heart would witness pain someday, but how did she prepare herself for what she experienced observing the sheer horror inflicted on her Son?
We learned from the Gospel according to Luke that Mary pondered the deeper meanings of all that was happening with Jesus and kept all things in her heart. At this point in their lives, it did not seem that Joseph was alive when Jesus was crucified and died. She endured her sadness with the cloak of her faith in God and that of her Sons messages as her means to cope. Jesus appointed John his disciple to take care of his mother after He was gone (John 7:5). We know John did exactly what was asked of him.
When I hear the Gospel on Good Friday, my heart aches for all those who have suffered and have been lost to a painful death. This is especially true when we hear about parents of young children and the heartache they have to bear when losing a child. I believe Mary must hold a special place in her heart for all those who have been through the anguish of losing a son or daughter.
This came to my mind when the news broke that Jeremy Richman, the father of one of the 20 children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, had been found dead in an apparent suicide. My first reaction to this news was stopping just to say a prayer asking Mary to please embrace him in her heart and pray to her Son, Jesus, for Richman’s soul. His death came on the heels of similar tragedies in another town well acquainted with school shootings when similarly, two student survivors of the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, also took their own lives. We lost these amazing children and a loving father simply due to the despair associated with coping in the aftermath of these sad deaths. I think it is critical we pray for all of them.
I think we should also again imagine what it must have been like for the Apostles and most especially Jesus’ mother, Mary, to learn that Jesus had in fact, risen from the dead. Even though it is not stated clearly in the Gospels that Mary knew, remember Jesus entrusted her care to John. Knowing John is among the first disciples to witness and speak with Christ after his resurrection, I’m sure Mary knew He had risen.
Why then is this one fact important for all of us to remember? The answer is simple. Clearly, it is in the Resurrection of Jesus that we find our hope and survive despair!
When Jesus was on the earth, he raised four people from the dead. He raised the widow’s son in the village of Nain (Luke 7:15). He raised the 12-year-old daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue (Mark 5:42). He raised Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha in Bethany after he had been dead four days (John 11:44). And he raised himself from the dead after he had been crucified.
Obviously, Jesus Christ did not deserve to die. So, why did someone so undeserving have to die? The Gospels say God sent Jesus into the world so we can have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, he gave his only Son, whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25–26)
Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven and resides there with her Son, Jesus, reminding us all of the importance of why Jesus came.
Copyright 2019 Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh