VII. THE BURIAL OF OUR LORD
Mary could not keep Jesus in her arms for all time. The hour of His Burial was approaching fast. Reverently His Body was wrapped in fine linen cloths, with spices, " as is the manner of the Jews to bury." (Mark xv. 46 ; John xix. 40.) It was then placed in a sepulchre in the garden—in the place where He was crucified—-in Joseph of Arimathaea's own " new monument, hewn in stone, out of a rock, wherein never yet had any man been laid." (Matt, xxvii. 60 ; Mark xv. 46 ; Luke xxiii. 53 ; John xix. 41.)
Our Lady at length had to look for the last time upon the dead Countenance of her Son. Since that hour how many women have given that long last look upon their beloved. Never has any other mother sorrowed as then did our Blessed Lady when she said farewell to Jesus upon the night of the first Good Friday. Where her Treasure lay, there was Mary's heart—with Jesus in the Tomb. But now it must needs be that " a stone should be rolled up to the door of the sepulchre," (Mark xv. 46.) to fasten the entrance tight and shut out all—even His Mother, from her Son. Our Lady, the last look taken, slowly turned away, and in a moment was outside the Tomb. Mary felt herself alone—not alone, for God was by her side, yet alone as she had not been since the Angelic Salutation at Nazareth, when the Holy Ghost had overshadowed her, and her Son had been given her by God, to be for three-and-thirty years the stay of her life, her strength and consolation, the support of her infirmity.
The Body of Jesus was removed from His Mother's sight. The sins of men had separated the Soul from the Body of the Word made Flesh. Standing beneath the Cross, His Holy Mother had felt herself separated from the Soul of her Son, when she saw Him die and knew that He could speak to her no more, until He should rise again. Standing outside the sepulchre, Mary knew herself to be separated from the Body, which she had given to our Lord, until it should be transfigured and glorified by Divine Power. We should not think that her faith—her knowledge—that the Resurrection was approaching, was permitted to banish the Blessed Virgin's grief in this last Dolour. We can hardly doubt that as the Passion of Jesus culminated in the mysterious Desolation when He seemed abandoned even by His Father, so at the close of Mary's Sorrows her soul was plunged in mystic desolation, even as was the case in the third Dolour—the Loss in the Temple, of which this last Dolour is in so many ways the counterpart. Each of these Dolours lasted for three days ; each of these Dolours was due not to the action of men, but to our Lord alone, for the essence of both Dolours consisted in His absence; during each Dolour her Son, whilst absent from His Mother, was teaching—in the one case the doctors in the Temple, in the other the spirits in prison. Though in each Dolour Mary knew in her heart that she would find Him soon, still whilst the Dolour lasted, the very iron entered into her soul and all around was darkness. This seems to me to be certain ; but, even if it were not so, still our Lady's heart was human like to ours, and we know that in the presence of death, the consolations of religion which tell of meeting beyond the grave, do not remove the sorrow which they can but mitigate. We are enjoined not to mourn as those without hope : we are not forbidden to mourn at all. Our religion is not meant to dry all tears on earth. When life is over our Lord Himself shall wipe away all tears from the eyes of those that love Him; but whilst life lasts, those who truly love Jesus Christ will be content to know that they are safe in His pierced Hands, and that He will not try them beyond their strength.
During the war which for four weary years and longer has broken hearts all over Europe, our Lady in her Sorrows has drawn souls innumerable to her side. During the years that yet remain, when so many lives must be desolate and seemingly abandoned, our Lady in her Sorrows will still be their refuge, until, for them too, the darkness shall be lifted, and all made clear in the Paradise of our God.
When St. John led Mary home from the Tomb where Jesus was buried, they were to remain, with out the visible Presence of their Lord, until Easter morn should break. Even to the faith of Mary, it seemed far off. But the night passed and the day broke at last—the glad day of the Resurrection. So shall it be with all who trust their lives to the sorrowful Mother of God. She has suffered all that can be suffered by a creature here below. How much deeper has she not drunk than any other of the Chalice of her Lord ? Therefore she under stands, and, mindful of her Sorrows, we trust our selves to her—lovingly and to the full.
Who amongst the children of men would dare to compare his sufferings with the Passion of Jesus or with the Dolours of Mary ? All who will strive, in union with their Desolate Mother, to bear bravely whatever cross our Lord may see well to place upon their shoulders, will find that when that cross is beginning to seem too heavy to be borne, He will Himself deign to raise it for awhile, until at last He shall lift it for ever. Then shall all things be made new. Then shall the crown, which is the reward of the cross borne patiently, be placed upon the brow of him who has endured unto the end. Then shall the wonderful words be spoken : " Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." For this—Mary will whisper to her children —for this it is indeed worth while to wait patiently until the night of waiting be past and the day break in the open Vision of our God.
Ad vesperam demorabitur fletus ;
ad matutinum lætitia.