Our Lady of Sorrows is Our Lady of Hope

If Jesus heard the sorrowful petition of the Widow of Nain, how could he not hear your petitions, if they be in accord with God’s will for your life?

Lucas Cranach der Jüngere, "The Miracle at Nain," 1569
Lucas Cranach der Jüngere, "The Miracle at Nain," 1569 (photo: Register Files)

 “And Jesus gave him to his mother.” (Luke 7:15) So reads the climax of the action in the Gospel according to the Evangelist Luke’s seventh chapter. Do you recall the story? Our Lord Jesus meets a widowed mother with a beloved son who has a tragic death. All these events foreshadow the events that will soon occur to the Lord Jesus Christ himself, except that he will be the one whose body, broken, bloodied, bruised, battered and beaten, is handed to his Immaculate Mother of Mercy, whose heart is pierced with the sword of sorrows.

I would venture to guess that Our Lord, who knew all things in the order of salvation, would have been able to grasp the parallel between his sign of handing the risen to this earthly life son of a widowed mother and what his own dear mother would undergo later, as she stood by his cross, her station keeping, as the hymn goes. The Blessed Mother of Our Lord would hold his lifeless body, and yet, she would hear no words similar to what the Christ utters today: “Young man, I tell you, arise.”

And yet, Mary, our Mother of Mercy, our Lady of Sorrows, is also our Lady of Hope. Although she does not have the words of consolation, the words of the direct command of her Son, our Lord, ordering death to yield its hold over this young man, the son of the widow of Nain, she knows. She knows in her heart of heart and in her soul of souls that all this fierce struggle, this all-too-human tragedy between good and evil that her beloved Son is experiencing on this earthly plane, is all for the salvation of the world.

Every cut inflicted, every bruise endured, every insult and calumny heard, every indignity of every single bit of spittle he suffers — none of it, absolutely none of it, is in vain. She knows in her heart of hearts and in her soul of souls that what her beloved Son, the only Son of a widowed mother, endures on this earthly plane, the shame on this natural level, leads to a supernatural level, one of eternal glory, wherein Satan is roundly defeated, and the prince of lies is made subject to the One who is All Truth.

Mary, our Mother, like the widowed mother whom the Lord encounters in Luke 7 has one thing that we must possess — and that is HOPE! That is precisely what we need today. Mary, Our Lady, knows that the Lord has pity on us. She knows the love that pours forth from his Sacred Heart, beating in a pure rhythm of love for us. She has the confident assurance that he is the victor, ultimately, over every trial, every adversity.

At the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, give it to her. Give to her all your problems, all your fears, all your anxieties. Give it to her. If Jesus, our Lord, could not but hear the petition made in sorrow by the Widow of Nain, how could he not hear our petitions, if they be in accord with God’s will for our lives, if they are made through the intercession of our Mother of Mercy? And so, today, we pray a prayer familiar to all those who know the spirituality of Jean Jacques Olier, founder of the Priests of San Sulpice, here translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Jesu that does in Mary dwell
Be in thy servants’ hearts as well,
In the spirit of thy holiness,
In the fullness of thy force and stress,
In the very ways that thy life goes
And virtues that thy pattern shows,
In the sharing of thy mysteries;
And every power in us that is
Against thy power put under feet
In the Holy Ghost the Paraclete