Mary meets Jesus. A second Annunciation. She labors again to say, "let this be done according to Your will."
Last night I gave a reflection on two of the Marys of the Lenten Gospels: Mary, the Mother of God and Mary of Magdala. As I prepared, I was struck again by the steadfast strength of the women. They remained. A (very rough) bit from the reflection:
"The mood at the crucifixion had to have been ugly. Peter, a fisherman, “the rock” — hardly a man we imagine couldn't hold his own in a fight, so feared for his life he could not bring himself to admit that he knew the man he left everything to follow, the man he saw transfigured on the mountain top, conversing with Elijah and Moses, of whom he heard it said, “This is my beloved Son.” Surely someone must have have urged the women to leave, wanting to shield them from possible violence, from the scandal — wanting to spare Mary from having to watch her child suffer and die.
But Mary stayed. Both tradition and scripture say she stayed to the bitter end, drinking the dregs of the cup her Son had begged to be spared. This is what she said yes to all those many years ago. To staying. To being a witness to faith and to hope, amid fear and despair. To martyrdom.
I wonder if Mary drew her strength in this moment from the graces that emerged from her years of reflection on the mystery of God made man, not in theory, but within her body, living in her house. She could stay because even the bitter despair of this moment could not erase what was so ingrained in her heart. Her yes. Her son. This was the “fruit” of her contemplations.
We often see Mary through the lens of the story’s beginning. A young girl’s strong “yes” to God, a model of obedience. But at my age, I find myself drawn to the much older Mary – the Mary who would have been in her early 50s. A woman who lived a life of contemplative prayer who could face martyrdom with a "yes" born of that life. Who once before let herself be emptied of Christ, acquiescing again to an even deeper poverty. All a mother's riches, poured out here and now. This is the prayer life I long to have...the poverty of spirit I aspire to."
The fourth station is by glass artist James Ceaser. See the rest of these luminously moving pieces here.