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Were You There: “Mary Stood”

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Editor’s note: DCSC member Amanda Saunders reflects on the example of Mary standing at the foot of the Cross during Christ’s crucifixion.

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother.” (John 19:25)

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother.

It does not say that near the cross of Jesus, his mother wailed, screamed, fought, spat, or spewed hatred. It says that Mary, the mother of Jesus, stood by His cross as He was being crucified.

I recently read a book called The Passion and the Cross by Ronald Rolheiser, and he discusses this  line in the story of the Passion. Most people are familiar with this small sentence, but it can be easily overlooked. Rolheiser delves deeper, saying, “Had Mary, in moral outrage…physically tried to attack someone as he was driving the nails into Jesus’ hands, she would have been caught up in the same kind of energy as everyone else, replicating that very anger and bitterness that cause the crucifixion to begin with.”

But she didn’t. She stood by her Son.

The Blessed Mother is sending a powerful message that sometimes we cannot fix a situation with our words, with reacting, with pushing our own agenda. Sometimes life requires us to “absorb the heaviness.” That is not an easy thing to do. Rolheiser describes that as “a genuine rare strength. It’s ‘standing under the cross’ so as to help take away some of the hatred, chaos, bitterness, and violence.”

Of course, absorbing the heaviness is not the solution across the board. There are times when voices need to be heard, and there are times when you need to fight for yourself or for the good of someone else. However, those moments should come from a place of love not from a place of hate.

Standing at the foot of the cross can seem like an unreachable and unrealistic position. It is not easy to be able to place yourself in the shoes of the Mother of God. As I reflected on this scene and on Rolheiser’s reflection, I have been able to apply this to different moments of conflict in my own life. Though on a much smaller scale than the Passion of our Lord, these moments too could have benefitted from this stance of “absorbing the heaviness.”

Reflection Question: When was a time you let a situation take hold of your emotions? Can you think of a time you should have bitten your tongue and didn’t?

With a passion for service and Franciscan spirituality, Amanda Saunders joined DC Service Corps in June 2016. Having served on short-term immersion trips herself, she brought this excitement to her role as Programs Associate. Originally from Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, Amanda graduated from Neumann University, studying Theology, Psychology, and Youth Ministry within a liberal arts program. She is now the Director of Campus Ministry at Bishop MacNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland.