Today we celebrate our Blessed Mother, our Lady of Sorrows. Fulfilling Simeon’s prophecy of her during the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, her presence during the Passion and Death of our Lord on the Cross saw a sword pierced through her heart. It is an unimaginable experience for a mother to witness the butchery and killing of her own son. No one has to experience a helplessness in front of inhumane brutality. Yet our Mother accepted all that in silence and in faith. Though her eyes are still veiled to the sight of what’s to come, she still set her eyes to the only Person she has left in the world, her only Son hanging on the Cross.
I believe our august Lady has set forth the real meaning of martyrdom. Our world today has always been in a game of running away from pain. The preoccupation for comfort and luxury, of speed and efficiency, of convenience and accessibility all speak of an attitude that runs away from pain and suffering. We are mentally trained to shy away from the difficult.
But life has always been difficult. It is an existential fact that humanity has to undergo. What the Cross offers us is not an exemption slip from the rigors of daily life but an option to find meaning in its harsh realities. Christian martyrdom is not a masochistic preference for pain and suffering in the hope of holiness and purification. We are made holy in our sufferings and purified in our trials by finding in our personal struggles the value of the Cross. Our blessed Mother stayed with Jesus through His suffering and joined in that suffering. Today, we are suffering and are invited to allow Jesus and Mary to join us in our suffering, to find meaning in the confusion and senselessness of pain.
It is in the staying-with that martyrdom has a place in our Christian lives. When a person stands by us in the midst of suffering and pain, it is a sign of love. There might not be a reason and purpose for suffering as of now and it is by faith that we hold on. But we hold on, and Jesus and Mary holds on with us, because love that endures pain is the meaning of martyrdom.