Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

1Tm 1:1,2,12-14; Ps 16:1b-2a,5,7,8, 11; Jn 19:25-27
"I shall not be disturbed."

Who are you, oh lady of sorrows? Who are you? Who is this woman called blessed by Simeon? This woman is Mary, the Mother of God, whose child was destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel. This woman is Mary, the Mother of God, whose heart was pierced so that the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed. She is the one who is like the Father in heaven so willing to gaze upon the Precious One as he hung upon the cross. Like the Father in heaven this woman saw the costly sacrifice of her Son and felt the rejection he felt by everyone who sins. On Good Friday the liturgy cries out to us, “My people what have I done to you? How have I offended you?” In this memorial of the woman, Mary, the Mother of God, we remember the love so tender that causes so much pain. Like her Son, Mary is without sin by the grace of her Immaculate Conception. Yet, she too feels the suffering caused by sin. She, too, is a reminder of all the suffering we cause innocent bystanders in our lives. We, who so easily forget that our lives, for good or for worse, are bound up with every other human being, continue to pierce the hearts of those who love us so faithfully. In his letter to Saint Timothy the Apostle reminds us that the Lord Jesus came into our world to save sinners like us. We who recognize and repent of our sin gaze upon the Crucified and his Mother, and He gives her to us and us to her so that we may also suffer and grieve for sin.

Jesus, the LORD, is our inheritance; he alone is the treasure we inherit. He keeps us safe and in him we take refuge. Indeed, the LORD is our allotted portion and our cup. There is no other container that could contain the LORD except the LORD. He overflows in the abundance of his outpouring. He holds fast our lot; we have nothing to fear. Fear belongs to those who do not belong to the LORD. His we are, his people, the sheep of his flock. The Lord Jesus is the incarnate wisdom of God. His good counsel is all we need to find the way home to the Father in the Holy Spirit. Even in our dark nights, when the pain is greatest and there is no light; the LORD is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. Even when we feel lost we are not overwhelmed with fear. Indeed, we rely upon his presence, for the LORD is at our right hand; he is never far from us. He shows us the path to life because he is The Way, The Truth and The Life. The LORD Jesus is our Life, our abundant life, our life eternal. Nothing less than the fullness of joy awaits all who come to Him, and we all live in the delights at His right hand forever. Saint Paul tries to encourage his beloved disciple Saint Timothy by reminding him of the abundance of mercy that rescued him from his blasphemy, violence, and arrogance. The Lord Jesus teaches his disciples to not be disturbed by anything that could blind us, not planks and not even splinters. The Lord Jesus is here at this Eucharist to dispel all that would discourage or disturb us in our journey to holiness.

The language of Saint Paul is the language of our liturgy. Sometimes the priest greets us with the words Saint Paul used to greet Saint Timothy, his true child in faith: grace, mercy and peace. We are given the grace of salvation and hope. This is a completely undeserved gift. We do not merit; we do not earn grace. Such abundance is so far removed from all our other life experiences; it's out of this world. We are not prepared for grace by our experience of life in society. Indeed, our fellow travelers in this world constantly remind us that there is no such thing as a "free lunch." The grace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord is completely unexpected and totally unnerving. The rug is pulled from under our feet, and we are set off balance, only to be caught and held close by the Beloved Lord. Likewise, his mercy is undeserved and overwhelming. Saint Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor and an arrogant man, yet the LORD saw him as he was and reveal the truth of his identity. Saul, the super Pharisee, acted out of the ignorance of his unbelief, and only the gift of faith and love in Jesus Christ rescued him from the wooden beam in his eye. He was blind, and was given sight. In beholding the One he persecuted, in gazing upon the Glory of Christ, Saul received the faith, the supernatural light, to behold the Face of God in the Face of Christ. No longer was he filled with self-righteous anger and unholy violence for the Body of Christ. In his conversion Saint Paul was at peace in the fellowship of those whom he used to hunt and imprison. It is this grace, mercy and peace that Saint Paul greets Saint Timothy and all who have joined them in the Body of Christ, who is, who was, and who is to come.

In the midst of his unspeakable suffering the silent Lamb of God speaks to the disciple who he loved and said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” This is the second time in John’s Gospel that Jesus called his mother, woman. The first time was at the Wedding Feast of Canna; now his hour had come and she now stands in for the First Eve. As the New Eve she is the mother of all who are beloved disciples. Now as he makes all things new through the precious blood and water from his side, Christ gives birth to the whole Church in every place and time. “Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” From this hour may we take Mary, the Mother of God, into our hearts and come to know the only suffering that heals, saves, and raises on high, the suffering of innocent love freely given and freely received. Such is the holy joy of each Eucharistic Sacrifice.