I came across a quote once that made a lasting impression in my mind, the author of which escapes me at the moment. It went something like this: the most compassionate person is one who is courageous enough to stay by your side in your suffering while not having the right words to say.
We may find that silence makes us uncomfortable and somewhat vulnerable. But in the silence we allow ourselves to truly be with the one who is suffering. Our attentive presence alone allows us to quietly enter and share in the pain of the other, to “co-suffer” with the other.
Today’s feast tells us of the seven sorrows of Mary which she experienced as part of her participation in her Son’s redemptive sufferings:
- Simeon’s prophecy at the presentation of Jesus in the temple
- The flight into Egypt
- The disappearance of the boy Jesus in Jerusalem
- The road to Calvary
- The crucifixion
- The removal from the cross
- The entombment
In her sufferings, Mary is called to exercise the greatest acts of faith. On a human level, the sufferings could have easily clouded her vision enough for her to lose perspective, but in her abundant trust in God’s goodness, she was able to transcend her pain and believe in the fulfillment of God’s salvific plan for his people.
At the cross Jesus gives Mary over to the disciple John as his mother. In that act, Mary becomes the mother of all of us – the one who will stand by us in our trials, as she did by Jesus. What parent can’t understand that when a child suffers, a parent suffers with that child?
If we ask for Mary’s help, and she remains silent, let us not think that this is because she cannot hear us or is absent. Having herself experienced great sorrow during her earthly mission, she knows our sufferings as well. We can be sure that she is most present when we ourselves are in pain, and we can trust in faith that she can help us to unite our sufferings to God’s own.
Editor, Living with Christ