My dear Fathers, Sisters and Brothers,
Grace, Mercy and Peace of Christ Jesus our Risen Lord !
Mary at the foot of the Cross: From the cross, before accomplishing the work of His Father, Jesus saw his Mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her. He said to his Mother, “Woman, here is your Son,” then to his beloved disciple, “Here is your Mother” (Jn 19: 26-27).
St. John Paul II says, “Mary’s assent of Calvary and standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming act of her Son. Suffering of such intensity can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but mysteriously fruitful for the Redemption of the world” (Salvific Doloris). And the words of Jesus were a kind of solemn handing over of the ‘Gospel of Suffering’ to be proclaimed to the community of believers.
Standing by the cross, Mary offers Jesus, gives him over, and begets him to the end for our sake. The ‘Yes’ of the Annunciation day reaches full maturity on the day of the cross, when Mary begets all who become disciples as her sons and daughters. “From that moment the disciple took her into his own home” (27) She becomes the spiritual gift, the spiritual Mother given by Jesus for all humanity.
Mary is the ‘woman’, as understood in the light of Genesis 3:15, who ends the reign of curse and inaugurates the era of blessing; through the travails of her Son’s death, she brings forth a new community of Jesus; she is the new Eve. This “the supreme hour of new creation” (Pope Francis) is the beginning of a new life, “the new living in the order of grace”, manifested in the mystery of a special saving mission of Jesus. On the cross, through his words, Jesus established a concrete maternal relationship, highly intense and personal, between Mary and each individual Christian.
Standing faithfully at the foot of the cross, the blessed Virgin Mary contemplates her Son’s triumph on the cross and invites each of us to be the disciples prepared to announce the “gospel of suffering” by uniting ourselves to the Cross of Christ in order to discover in it “the interior peace and even spiritual joy” of which St. Paul mentions, “I rejoice in my suffering for your sake” (Col. 1:24). The apostle also adds that it is our duty to respond to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ by seeking holiness and patiently enduring suffering “for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (24) .
The Virgin Mother teaches us to take courageous risk in charity, to “touch the suffering flesh of Christ” (Pope Francis) by reaching out to the many suffering members of the mystical body. She invites us to look around, as the good Samaritan did, to pause, to become interested in others, to accompany, to cure wounds, and if necessary, to ask for forgiveness. She gives us comfort to trust more in the Lord than in our own strength. She reminds us that the greatness of a man or woman “is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer” (Benedict XVI).
As we look forward to celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, let us unite ourselves to Mary, standing by the Cross and renew our ‘Yes’ to the Lord who chose the Way of the Cross in order to “make all things new’ (Rev. 21:5) for us, the Church. With Mary let us take the path of obedience, sacrifice and love; with her we advance in full faith and hope towards the fulfillment of this promise.
We shall celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta on 5, September in the parishes/institutions with due attention, preferably combining with some work of mercy. Mother’s words on suffering from her own experience is very enriching.
“Suffering has to come because if you look at the cross, he has got his head bending down — he wants to kiss you — and he has both hands open wide — he wants to embrace you. He has his heart opened wide to receive you. Then when you feel miserable inside, look at the cross and you will know what is happening. Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you. At times you come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you. That suffering has to come, that came in the life of Mary, that came in the life of Jesus — it has to come in our life also. Suffering is a gift from God. It is between you and Jesus alone inside.
God thirsts for intimacy with us, even as we long for Him, even in our darkness of loneliness. If we long for Him, He first longed for us. And intimacy with God means “Entering more deeply the Cross”—The Cross is the bridal chamber where union takes place in the intimacy of suffering.
It is the very woundedness of our hearts that provides the chalice for the personal mystical Mass which we celebrate daily: “See in this deep hole in your psyche, this piercing of your heart, the perfect chalice, a cup to receive the tears and blood of your crucified Lord, the flood of Divine Mercy that has nowhere else to go unless a wounded heart is there to receive it.”