The prayer of today’s liturgy sees Mary at the foot of the Cross as the model for the Church in her search to become more united with Christ in the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection. A mother standing close to a dying child is a potent human symbol. Even for Christ, suffering was a mystery and a dark valley he entered. Surely it was the same for Mary as she stood at the foot of the Cross.
When today’s feast was first observed in the twelfth century, it was called Our Lady of Compassion which perfectly describes an essential part of Our Lady’s relationship with her Son—and her relationship with us.
We have all experienced compassion. We know how helpless we feel when someone we love suffers. That person is hurting. We try to comfort them, but we can’t take away the pain. All we can do is share it.
Or think about a small child falling and scraping his knee. A mother’s first impulse is to run to him and gather him in her arms. The knee still hurts, but his mother’s embrace tells him that it’s going to be all right.
Compassion helps us understand Our Lady, because she accompanied her Son as he made the Way of the Cross. Like any mother, she wanted to run and scoop him up in her arms when she saw his anguish. She couldn’t take away the pain, all she could do was remain close to him.
Today, we may meditate upon the Seven Sorrows of Mary: Simeon’s prophecy of the sword, the flight into Egypt, losing Jesus at the Temple, watching him carry his Cross, the Crucifixion, taking him down from the Cross, and his burial. We can imagine what it was like for Our Lady to endure these sorrows, because we suffer too, each in our own way. Our Lady shows us that we are always in God’s hands, even and especially at those times when he seems to be so far away from us. May we allow her to envelop us in her arms and carry us to her Son where every grace and blessing awaits us.