They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:40-42
This last sword is Our Lady’s final farewell to her beloved Son.
As she accompanies His lifeless body to the tomb and watches as it is anointed with oils and spices, and wrapped in burial cloth, surely she must have recalled the swaddling clothes she wrapped Him in as an infant, the cleaning and care of His body she lovingly performed for years in his youth.
She is undone as they close the tomb and she must leave Him there.
“Oh my beloved Son,” St. Alphonsus Liguori writes on Mary’s behalf, “am I not going to see you any more? Receive, then my last farewell, as I gaze upon you for the last time, the last farewell of your devoted mother. Receive my heart, which I bury with you.” (The Glories of Mary)
Indeed, Our Lady revealed in a vision to St. Bridget of Sweden, “I can truly say that when my Son was buried, there were two hearts laid in one tomb.”
Any mother who has buried her child has felt the same thing – this hollowed-out emptiness and the void where their precious loved one used to be. But Our Lady felt it with much more intensity, as her bond with her Child was perfect. He was her Son, her Savior, the one she loved with perfect love and Who loved her the same way in return. She was so desolate and sorrowful after His burial that, St. Bernard says, “she moved many to tears,” and those who saw her could not help weeping with her.
As we place ourselves at Mary’s side during this reflection, may we weep alongside her. With St. Bonaventure, let us say, “O my sweet Lady, I am the one to weep. You are innocent, I am guilty.” It was our sins that caused the death of Our Lord, and our sins have caused her grief.
But out of this great sorrow comes the redemption for our sins. With it comes the hope of seeing our own loved ones again who have died with faith in Christ. If Our Lady had not undergone this Good Friday, we would never have our own Easter Sunday. Indeed, death is conquered, our sins have been paid for, and Jesus has made it possible for us to be with Him and His Mother in heaven one day.
Following Mary’s Example
How can we endure our own Good Fridays – those times when the things we love the most are taken away from us?
Let’s look at what Mary did:
She died to herself. Mary endured this tremendous heartache, allowing herself to be completely used by God for his purposes, out of love. Her love for God, her love for her Son, and her love for us fueled her great sacrifice and willingness to undergo such tremendous suffering. She did not consider her own wants, but completely surrendered to God’s will.
As a result, however, she has been elevated to the highest place of any person in history. She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The more completely we abandon ourselves to God’s will, the more certain is our path to holiness. This is what Christ meant when He said to His disciples, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose it, shall preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)
Jesus gave himself for us, and in doing so He showed us that the pathway to heaven is complete surrender to the will of God. “Not my will, but yours,” he prayed to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane.
Mary did this same thing when she offered her fiat: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.”
We live to serve God, and when we serve Him so completely that our own will is not a factor, we live our lives with an eternal perspective, thereby securing eternal life for our souls.
“For this slight weight of affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen, but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Jesus and his mother Mary are the perfect examples for us to follow when our lives are touched by suffering. They not only model this absolute surrender, but they desire to give us the grace that we need to follow their example. When we ask for and receive the grace necessary to take up our crosses, we are able to see that God is always holding us in His loving hands and using all of our trials for our good and for His glory.
- Are there areas that you still need to surrender to the will of God? Have you said to Him, “You can have this or this, Lord, but not these things. Not my children, my spouse, my home?” Can you turn those areas over to Him as well and allow Him to use them however he sees fit? Can you abandon yourself completely to Him?
- Have you asked the Blessed Mother for the grace needed to endure the trials and sufferings in your life? As the Mediatrix of All Graces, Mary desires to help us to follow her example and abandon ourselves to God. She understands how hard it is and wants us to ask her for help.
God, help me to surrender all that I am and all that I have to your perfect will. You desire us to hold back nothing from you, but that is not easy to do. Please show us how loving and trustworthy You are, and that the more we give ourselves to You, the more you give Yourself to us.
Our Lady of Sorrows, thank you for modeling this abandonment to the divine will of God so perfectly for us. Please give me the grace needed to follow your example. Help me to remember that the glory that awaited you in heaven far surpassed your sufferings. May this hope of eternal glory allow my present suffering to feel light and momentary.
This is the seventh post in a series on the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
To read the first post, click here.
To read the second post, click here.
To read the third post, click here.
To read the fourth post, click here.
To read the fifth post, click here.
To read the sixth post, click here.
St. Alphonsus Liguori’s book, The Glories of Mary, has reflections written by this devoted Saint for Our Lady’s feast days, her sorrows, her virtues, and so much more. It is a wonderful resource for considering the beautiful example that our Blessed Mother is to us. It is available on Amazon Kindle right now for only 99 cents! You can find it at this affiliate link. I highly recommend it.