She Feels Our Pain

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By Marc Massery

Last month, we talked about mercy, the ninth of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Evangelical Virtues. This month, we address Mary's tenth Evangelical Virtue: sorrow or compassion.

Nothing wounds the heart of a parent more than to have to watch their children suffer. The reason for this is obvious — there's no greater earthly love than the love of a parent for their children. A parent's love for a child reveals an essential truth about love: The greater one's love for another, the more compassion one will have for them.

When you love someone, when they suffer, you also suffer. The word "compassion" comes from a Latin word that quite actually means "to suffer with."

Imagine, then, the love of a sinless mother — a mother perfected in love. The Blessed Virgin Mary's love for her beloved Son, Jesus Christ, was much greater than any other mother's in world history. So whenever Christ suffered, the Blessed Virgin Mary suffered far more than any other mother might have. Twelfth-century theologian Richard of St. Victor put it best when he wrote: "As no other creature ever loved God as much as Mary loved Him, so there never was any sorrow like Mary's sorrow."

Consider the many times in the Gospel when the Blessed Mother suffered on account of her Son:
1. When she conceived of the Holy Spirit and St. Joseph considered distancing himself from her.
2. When late in her pregnancy Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem and she had to give birth in a manger.
3. When the Prophet Simeon told Mary, "You yourself a sword will pierce" (Lk 2:34);
4. When the most powerful man in the region, King Herod, threatened the Christ Child's life, and the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt.
5. When the Child Jesus had been lost in the Temple, and Mary told Him, "Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety" (Lk 2:48).
6. When Jesus was betrayed, arrested, scourged, condemned to death, and crucified.

Now, this list detailing Mary's suffering is not exhaustive. Surely, she suffered in more ways than the Gospel tells us. Though we don't know all the details, we can be sure Mary suffered much on account of the love and compassion she had for her Son.

Mary's virtue of compassion reveals to us the cost of living the Gospel. The Gospel is free insofar as we don't have to pay to receive it. But the Lord demands much from us, and when we follow Him, He will allow us to suffer, as Jesus and Mary suffered.

The good news is that we're not alone in our suffering. The Blessed Mother doesn't only have compassion for her Son Jesus. She has compassion for each one of us, too. How can we be sure of this? Well, before Jesus died on the Cross, He told Mary, "Woman, behold your son." Then He turned to the Apostle John and said, "Behold, your mother" (Jn 19:26-27). Pope St. John Paul II explains the implications of this exchange:

... it is John whom the Blessed Virgin in fact recognized as her son; but this privilege has been interpreted by Christians from the beginning as the sign of a spiritual generation in relation to all humanity. ... making Mary the mother of John and of all the disciples destined to receive the gift of divine grace. (General Audience, April 3, 1997)

So Mary is our mother, too. She feels our pain, and she wants to help us. We just need to keep turning to her and asking for her help, and she will intervene in our lives.

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JANE - Mar 13, 2021

Meant Asuncion not Asuncion