We, the Church, we are the Body of Christ. We say that all the time, but do we really believe that? If we do, then we need to know two things: (1) that Mary is our Mother, and (2) that our sorrows have meaning, they have a purpose.
Let’s start with a good bit of Biblical trivia to keep in your back pocket: what was Adam’s wife’s original name? You might be tempted to say “Eve,” but that’s wrong. It’s actually “Woman.” That’s what Adam names her in Genesis 2, when they first meet. And she’s renamed at a very interesting time. In the midst of God kicking them out of the Garden, Adam turns to his wife and says, ‘You will be named Eve,’ because you will be “Mother of the living.” The timing seems strange, both because they’re in the middle of being punished, and because they have no children. She’s not the mother of anybody yet.
So what’s this odd scene about? As we saw yesterday, it’s looking forward to the Cross. And so, in today’s Gospel: Jesus, at the Cross, sees Mary, and says to her, “Woman, behold your son.” And then to the Beloved Disciple, “Behold, your Mother.” She goes from “Woman’ to “Mother” at the exact moment in which Christ lifts the Curse on Adam and Eve. No wonder, then, that early Christians like St. Irenaeus, recognized Mary the “New Eve.”
But, remember, Eve means “Mother of the living.” And Mary is the Mother of all those living in Christ, all of Jesus’ beloved Disciples. Revelation 12 says this. After Satan can’t defeat the Mother of Christ, it says [in Rev. 12:17] “the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.” That’s us. We are her children.
Mary is the Mother of Christ: she gave Him His Body. We are part of that Body. We’re joined to Jesus Christ in Baptism, which means that God is our Father, and Mary is our Mother.
Be we don’t just celebrate Mary as Our Lady today, but as Our Lady of Sorrows. Because it’s not for nothing that Christ gave her to us at the Cross, the very moment in which, according to Simeon’s prophesy in Luke 2, a sword of sorrow was piercing her soul.
Mothers love their children, and it hurts to see them in pain. This Mother, when everyone else ran away, or stood and watched “at a distance,” she bravely stood at the foot of the Cross and consoled her divine Son as He was tortured and killed.
But why? Why does sinless Mary suffer? Well, for the same reason that Jesus does. Like us, Our Lady is part of the Body of Christ, and that’s what Jesus takes on a Body for in the first place: to suffer unto death for the life of the world. Jesus didn’t say, “take up your Cross and throw it away,” but “take up your cross and follow me.” He doesn’t suffer and die so that we don’t have to suffer. He suffered and died so our sufferings have meaning.
So we’re not promised a life without suffering. We’re promised something better: that our sufferings matter to Christ, and that He and His sorrowing Mother are present with us in every one of our crosses.
The Body of Christ suffers for others, but the Body suffers as One. This is our calling, and it is through this suffering Body that we will rise to the eternal glory of the Resurrection, joining Jesus Christ and His Mother forever.