Our Mother Is “All Eyes”
My reflection is based on a portion of John’s Gospel. Mary, the sorrowful mother, stands beneath the cross of her Son as the dying Jesus calls to her: “Woman!” Of course, this is not the first time that Scripture quotes him speaking to his mother. When the wine runs out at the wedding feast at Cana, Mary asks Jesus to do something, and he asks her: “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” Now he is running out of blood, and she’s questioning why this had to happen to him. She recalls Simeon’s words: “and you yourself, a sword will pierce,” but that sword would feel like a splinter compared to the actual pain she feels at this moment.
Ted Turner, the wealthy businessman who founded CNN, once said, “Christianity is a religion for losers.” Turner is correct, but at depths he cannot fathom. Christianity is, in part, about loss. And who knows this better than Mary? She lost, early on, any hope of a conventional marriage. She lost her Son to his mission when he was twelve. She lost her husband, Joseph, at some point. She lost her voice when the crowd around her was crying “Barabbas,” while she was silently screaming, “Free my Son!” Then, she lost her Son at thirty-three.
And yet this mother stands there, says John in his Gospel. She stands under the cross, which means she understands the cross, and she becomes a “signpost” for those of us who follow her Son. When we lose our way, she points to him. When we fail to follow through, she nods toward Jesus. And when nothing seems to make sense, she puts her hand across our wounded hearts and reassures us as only a mother can. She knows.
But there is something deeper to be learned from this grieving mother. She stands there. She doesn’t leave like most of the disciples. She doesn’t curse God as one of the criminals does. She doesn’t need to blurt out a statement of faith as the centurion did. She stands there. And despite the heartache, her eyes become deep pools of peace. She knows.
Mary models for us an open-eyed help, writes St. Alphonsus. She does not wait to be asked. She is all eyes, wanting to come to our aid even before we call on her. The icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help confirms this truth. Mary’s eyes are on everyone, no matter where they stand. She sees, and she knows, and she helps. She is Our Mother of Perpetual Help.