Homily for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
A few weeks ago, I was visiting with my parents and at some point it was just my father and I sitting in the living room. My mother received an unexpected phone call from my sister and was worried something had happened to my 1-year-old nephew. As she walked into the back room, I made a comment to dad along the lines of: “Why does she always worry about everyone?” I was only poking fun at my mom, but my dad said something quite remarkable in response. Now, for context, my father and I usually don’t talk about deep subjects very often so for me to remember something that he said is kind of a big deal. My dad looked at me and said: “Tom, you don’t understand how much parents always worry about their children and grandchildren. It doesn’t matter how old you get or how successful you become, we are always going to worry about you and be concerned for your health and well-being.” It really made me think. And, obviously, that moment has been sitting with me since.
As I was preparing for today’s homily, that’s what the Lord was placing on my heart because today we remember the moments that another parent, our Blessed Mother, was worried about her son, the various moments when Mary experienced incredible sorrow as the Mother of Jesus.
At the very beginning of Jesus’ life, when Mary and Joseph presented him in the Temple, Simeon told Mary: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” The words of Simeon were a great prophetic message to Mary and throughout the scriptures we find just how accurate that prophecy was. Even before Mary received that prophecy her heart had already been pierced.
- When Mary found out she was pregnant with the Son of God and Joseph almost divorced her – her heart was pierced.
- When there was no place where Jesus could be born and they had to settle for a stable with animals – her heart was pierced.
- When the newborns were being slaughtered by Herod as he searched for the Christ child – her heart was pierced.
- When Mary and Joseph lost the child Jesus during their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem and went searching for him – her heart was pierced.
- When Jesus left home and went away to begin his public ministry – her heart was pierced.
- When Jesus’ life was threatened by the Scribes and Pharisees because of the message he was preaching – her heart was pierced.
- When Jesus was arrested on that Thursday evening of Passover – her heart was pierced.
- When Jesus was beaten, whipped, stripped and then forced to carry the cross naked through the streets of Jerusalem – her heart was pierced.When Jesus died on the cross on that fateful Good Friday and he was placed in the tomb – her heart was pierced.
On this memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Church reminds us of the great sacrifice made by Our Lady for simply accepting the role of Mother of God. But this is not a memorial that is meant to bring us sadness – it’s supposed to bring us a sense of joy because it reminds us how we have a companion who walks with us in the moments that we experience sorrow.
As our Blessed Mother, Mary is one of those parents that is constantly concerned about her children. She is there to support us when our own journey of faith becomes difficult, when we experience moments of suffering…because when we are hurting, her heart is pierced and she draws ever closer to us. So today, whatever worry, anxiety, fear, or grief we may be carrying, may we ask Our Lady of Sorrows to walk with us. May she present those sorrows to her Son and intercede on our behalf.