She suffered much, because she loved much


Homily for Sept. 15 – Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows stained glass, photo by Lawrence OPIt is not by chance that we celebrate the memorial of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, the day after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

We have a feast in honor of the Cross because it was the means by which God showed us the greatness of his love, accepting death and humiliation to save us, and then conquering that death by rising from the grave. Unlike her son, Mary did not have any material instrument of self-sacrifice; the sword that pierced her heart was spiritual – the sorrows she experienced throughout the life of her Son, seeing him persecuted, misunderstood, and put to death. She suffered greatly, because her love was immense. Those events that made her suffer are her metaphorical cross.

The tradition of the Church lists seven sorrows of Mary, from throughout the life of Christ: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, Jesus being lost in Jerusalem, the carrying of the Cross, the death on the Cross, Jesus being removed from the cross, and the burial. We could perhaps add more to this list – like the flagellation of the Lord, or the time when the people of Nazareth tried to throw Jesus off a precipice when he preached there.

The point is that Mary loved Jesus more than any other human being ever would or could – she was totally pure of heart and free from sin, as well as being His Mother – so any suffering of her Son was painful to her, whether it be physical suffering or especially anything that implied the rejection of His message and the denial of His divine identity. His passion and death on the Cross are, logically, the greatest of her sorrows, as well as the moment when she most showed the strength of her love by remaining at Jesus’ side at the moment of his greatest pain and humiliation. This love is more important and more worthy of praise than many more spectacular miracles or displays of wisdom, as St Paul says in the first reading today.

As we honor Mary today for this great love, we can also adopt two “action items”. First of all, although Mary can no longer suffer because she is in heaven, she is still our mother, and she still loves. We should always turn to her in prayer asking for her intercession in our times of need. Secondly, we can examine our own lives to see if we try to love like she does – if we are always ready to accompany Christ as He suffers in the people around us. He suffers in the poor, the homeless, the addicted. He suffers in the lonely, the weak, the sick. Do we reach out to Christ in them? Certainly this outreach exists in our parish in a significant way, but we have to do it also as individuals. At the very least, as difficult as it can be at times, do we treat every person we see and meet with a smile, with love and respect?

May Mary, Mother of Christ, our Mother, our Lady of Sorrows, continue to intercede for us and for all those we love , and obtain for us the gift of having a compassionate and faithful heart like her own.

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About Matthew Green

I am a translator, origami artist/teacher, and photographer, a blogger, former philosophy professor, and I love to sing. You can see my photos on Flickr and buy prints of some of them on Fine Art America. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter (@mehjg), and in various and sundry other social media sites on the web.
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