The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 38.


The Arms of Christ had already been stretched upon the wood that was to bear them for three long hours; the nails had been driven into His Hands and Feet. The thud of the hammer that fell upon those nails fell also on Mary's heart. The Cross was slowly raised that all might find salvation ; the Body of our Lord was lifted up— a sign indeed to be spoken against—that He who suffered thus, might draw all who would gaze thereon, to receive forgiveness of their sins and render love for love; the Precious Blood was slowly trickling down, drop by drop, from His Brow beneath the Crown of Thorns—from His pierced Hands and wounded Feet it flowed as well, to wash our sins away ; mankind was saved—but Mary's heart was broken. There stood beneath the Cross, His Mother, and she saw Him die. Of this Dolour, where the Compassion of our Lady was joined to the Passion of her Son, it is best to use few words. Our earth has never seen the like. I speak not now of the death of the world's Creator, but of the human tragedy of His Mother's sorrow. Never before, since time began, did a mother—listening to His broken words, her eyes fixed upon His Face, watch for three hours her tormented Child slowly dying, to see Him expire upon a Cross of shame. And this mother is the Mother of God. We behold here a Mystery of atrocious suffering, in presence of which I feel it reverent to say but little. It may be that the fewer words we use, the more deeply shall we be permitted to feel for our afflicted Mother in her woe. Certain it is, that our Lady's grief was such, that an extraordinary support from God was needed to preserve her life in being. Strengthened from on high, Mary stood immovable—the Faithful Virgin, faithful to her Son in death, faithful to us for whom He died— faithful to the end. She heard the dear Voice she loved so well, pray for His executioners, promise Paradise to the Thief, give her John the Beloved in His place. She heard Him cry: "I thirst." . . . O agony, she saw them give Him the vinegar and the gall. She watched the dark night descend upon His Human Soul, when He cried aloud, " My God, My God, why hast Thou abandoned Me ?" And then, all was over. He had finished the work given Him to do, His Head was bowed. " Father, into Thy Hands I commend My Spirit." Jesus Christ was dead. And Mary still lived on—for such was the Will of God. One thing only will I say. We must never forget that our Lady was a willing victim. Never was a murmur heard to fall from her lips. There was never a murmur in her heart. Her will was as perfectly at one with the Will of the Divine Victim dying upon the Cross, as it is possible for the will of the creature to be attuned in suffering to the Will of the Creator. She consented as freely, as fully on Calvary to the Passion of Christ, as at Nazareth she had consented to His Incarnation. During the three hours of the first Good Friday, our Lady never wavered. " Be it done unto me according to Thy Word " still expressed all that she would say. Everything was left by her to God. For us men and for our salvation she offered her Son with out reserve, and thus was granted to her that which shall be hers for ever, her special place, by itself apart, in the work of man's Redemption.

Mary did not stand beneath the Cross in mere passivity. A mother cannot be passive whilst her son is dying. As on the day of her Purification, though her heart was breaking, she gave Him without reserve for the sins of men. Thus is she associated inseparably, not only at Bethlehem with Jesus in His Childhood, with Jesus in His Boyhood and in His Manhood at Nazareth, but also with Jesus—with our Saviour—on Calvary in His Passion. There she—the model of perfect prayer—pleaded the Great Sacrifice, which could alone redeem the world and set us free. Mary's heart was pierced—a Refuge for all those who weep, that she might gently guide her children, through sorrow, to her Son. O Virgin most sorrowful, O Virgin most holy, we unite our hearts, our wills, our sufferings, our prayers to thine —that in thy loving-kindness thou mayest offer us to God.