I wrote this short piece a while ago, but it seems fitting for Good Friday so I am posting it now:
While attending a Saturday vigil mass at All Saints Church in Syracuse, I listen as Father Fred, a thin priest with glasses and a strong voice, recites the Words of Consecration. He retells the story of how Jesus, at his last meal, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples and said: “Take this, all of you, and eat of it. For this is my body which will be given up for you.”
Father Fred lifts the cup of wine and continues: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant …”
From my pew located on the left side of the church near the Fourth Station of the Cross—“Jesus Meets His Mother”—I look outside and see drops of rain splatter the mullioned window. Gray clouds hang low in the sky and the wind peels away leaves from some trees perched on a hill that slopes down to the parking lot.
The rain reminds me of the tears Mary must have shed when she saw her son standing in front of her. She must have felt helpless knowing she could do nothing to save him. She could only weep as she watched Jesus walk by on his way to Golgotha. She had to let him pass. She could not intervene or obstruct the will of God. She knew Christ’s mission had to be fulfilled.
But the hurt persisted. As a mother, she suffered the pain of watching her son carrying the heavy wooden cross on his shoulders. She saw him stripped, beaten, whipped and wearing a crown of thorns.
She shuddered when the Roman soldiers pounded the nails into his hands—the same hands she caressed when Jesus was a babe—and she must have closed her eyes and turned away when the lance pierced his side. Comforted by John, she stood idle as the soldiers taunted her son and then executed him. And then she held Jesus in her arms when they took his body down from the cross.
The mother of the Word Made Flesh endured the horror of this ordeal, and as the Blessed Virgin Mary, she did not allow hatred of the soldiers and the crowd to enter her heart. Yet as a woman, she could not hide the pain that gripped her face. Just like the rain that falls when the clouds fill with moisture, the hurt had to come out; and it was released in the tears that ran down her face—like the raindrops streaking the window beside my pew on this dark autumn afternoon.