Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. This feast reminds us of Mary’s compassion, grief, and intense suffering during the passion and death of Jesus. She is aware of our suffering and pain because she too suffered greatly during her life Earth. Seven of these trials she endured have become a devotion for many and have often been depicted in art. Though they will not be discussed in depth in this post, for reference, the seven sorrows (or dolors) of Mary are:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)
>> Reflection: Whom do I know that is suffering or in pain?
2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13)
>> Reflection: How do I reach out to those who are suffering?
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:43-45)
>> Reflection: How do I deal with losses in my life?
4. Mary meeting Jesus Carrying the Cross (Luke 23:27)
>> Reflection: How can I be present and be supportive to people in pain?
5. The Crucifixion (John 19:25)
>> Reflection: How do I react when my life gets extremely difficult and people hurt me deeply?
6. Mary Receiving the Dead Body of Her Son (Matthew 27:57-59)
>> Reflection: Look at the image of Michelangelo’s Pieta and the way Mary holds her son. Are we respectful to our parents? Do we thank and truly appreciate them for loving and caring for us?
7. The Burial of Her Son and Closing of the Tomb (John 19:40-42)
>> Reflection: What does the Church need today that I can offer?
Today’s Gospel comes from John 19:25-27:
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
“Woman, behold, your son.” “Behold, your mother.” With these words, Christ establishes a new relationship between His beloved mother Mary and His beloved disciple. This conversation isn’t to be taken lightly, after all, in that powerful moment when all eyes were fixed on Christ, He gave us His mother to be our mother, as a loving resource to help us grow closer to her Son.
Mary is the New Eve
Another notable part of this verse is the use of the term, “woman.” In the present day, people would be shocked if a child gave orders to his mother by referring to her as “woman,” however Jesus was not being disrespectful in His day and age. Before the fall of Adam and Eve, Eve was not addressed by name, she was simply called, “woman.” If we take a look at Genesis 3:20, “The man gave his wife the name “Eve,” because she was the mother of all the living,” we are told that Eve was the mother of all creation. Now, hold onto that thought for a minute.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45, Saint Paul tells us, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” making Jesus the new Adam. 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” So, while Eve looked after the Earth, the animals, and birthed humanity, Mary was the mother of all New Creation.
I encourage you to dive deeper into scripture and examine the parallels between Eve and our Blessed Mother, as it is very intriguing. The following quote from St. Irenaeus does a fantastic job of comparing and contrasting the two:
“Just as the former—that is, Eve—was seduced by the words of an angel so that she turned away from God by disobeying his word, so the latter—Mary—received the good news from an angel’s announcement in such a way as to give birth to God by obeying his word…And as the human race was subjected to death by a virgin, it was liberated by a virgin; a virgin’s disobedience was thus counterbalanced by a Virgin’s obedience.” —St. Irenaeus
Eve was created immaculate, pure, and completely unstained from burdens of sin. Unfortunately, this beautiful, wholesome woman succumbed to temptation and brought sin into the world. Eve ended up living her life disobeying God, feeling dark and broken. Mary, conversely shows us a life lived in obedience to God despite being aware of the insurmountable pressure, pain, and commitment of her mission and her “yes” to Jesus. Just as sin entered the world through a pure, stainless virgin, salvation has come through another.
Let us recall Eve’s purpose. In Genesis 2:18 we learn that God created Eve because Adam needed a “suitable helper for him.” However, instead of helping Adam and obeying God’s commands, Eve was instrumental in turing Adam away from God. How heartbreaking. But, there’s hope. Mary did the complete opposite. It was Mary who commanded the start of Jesus’ ministry. If we examine the wedding at Cana, Mary’s command, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5) is powerful in that she commands the start of Jesus’ ministry, encouraging Him to preform His first miracle, revealing to the world that He is Christ.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is what Eve was created to be. Mary lives obediently as she was called by God to be. “[Mary’s] soul magnifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46)
How are we living? Are we living up to our fullest potential? Are we being all that God created us to be? How well are we doing at leading others to Christ?
In my relationships; am I acting like Eve, giving into my selfish desires and instant gratification? How can I be more like Mary, being completely selfless in my obedience to God despite the trials I face?
“Behold, your Mother.” Let us learn Mary’s ways so that our souls can greater magnify the Lord. Let her lead us to her Son by her powerful intercession and example. Let us not be afraid to ask for help in growing in holiness and withstanding temptation.