The Pascal celebrations give meaning to the whole life of Christ. It is because He died for our salvation that we can derive meaning from every other aspect of our life. It is because of the meaning of the Pascal Celebrations that this tragic, sad, traumatizing Friday became Good Friday.
It is a good story to tell, how Christ came and died and saved us from our own iniquities. That the ultimate meaning of His life was in death. It is all beautiful and rosy and we feel very special because while we were yet sinners, the son of man chose and accepted the will of His Heavenly Daddy to die or us. What did it feel like to be the mother of this Son of Man? Just because Christ was God did not make His mother Mary celebrate this Journey. She was not seeing the Good in the Friday.
She was blessed with this child, who from His entry into her womb brought a roller coaster of events into her life. She was almost abandoned by her spouse, she bore him in a manger, she had to flee from her country to keep her alive from being killed by Herod, she had to listen to him diminish and devalue her motherhood in front of people multitudes of people as He declared, “My mother is anyone who does the will of my father”. He got lost when He was 12 and their efforts to finding him were such an anti climax. And here comes the mother of all moments. He enters Jerusalem as a King. It must have been a moment of pride for her. “Look, that is my son”. She must have shed a tear, glorying in the celebrations, as everyone sang Hosanna and waved leaves and put clothes at the feet of the cold. Jubilation. Exhilaration. Pride. Happiness.
And then, he was betrayed by one of His disciples. He was arrested. He was tried, before Pilate, before Herod, then returned to Pilate who, seeing no fault in Him, had him flogged. But the accusers were not satisfied. The bayed for His blood. They wanted Him dead. They would rather a known criminal be freed than Christ, (the one who fed them, healed their sick, spoke to them about the kingdom of God and performed many good deeds in their presence), remain alive in their midst. They cried loudly, en masse, “crucify Him£. Pilate gave in. He told them to do with Him as they willed. He was mocked and spat on, he was crowned with thorns, He was given a heavy cross to carry, He carried it. He was undressed, his last dignity taken away from Him, His hands and feet nailed to the cross, then in lot’s of agony, bleeding, hanging, exhausted, thirsty, beaten, battered, bruised, He gave up His spirit to His father, and died.
His mother was a part of all this. Were women allowed to be part of trials in the days of the Roman empire, I don’t know, but if they weren’t, I am sure she kept tab of the happenings. She had how he was condemned to death. How he was beaten. How He carried a heavy cross. He even run into Him as he headed to Calvary, carrying the heavy cross. He watched Him die from a distance. We know she was present at the cross because Christ called out to her. “Woman, behold your son”.
I imagine the pain of betrayal of the people she called her own. Her neighbors, her friends, the people she went t church with as she listened to them cry for Jesus blood. Demanding for Him to be crucified. No one stood for His son. I imagine the feeling of anger and rage at His chosen twelve. One sold Him out. The others ran away. Peter denied ever knowing Him. How could they all leave Him like that? What happened to the friendship? Were they even friends in the first place? Imagine the brokenness when they met on the road to Calvary. Him carrying the cross, she looking helplessly, wishing she could take the pain upon herself. Imagine her watching them undress Him, drive nails through His palms and feet, raising the cross up high and leaving him to bleed to death. Imagine her receiving the dead Jesus on her arms, burying her beloved only son in a borrowed grave. Darkness. Death. Pain. Betrayal.
Pain and betrayal are feelings we identify with. Death and darkness are present with us every day. And we can question, how good the Friday was for Mary. She may or may not have been party to the Pascal Mystery. She may have known Christ was going to die so all humanity may live. She may have been aware of the will of God upon her beloved only son. That did not take away the pain of betrayal, the frustration in the happenings, the desire to just take the pain away from her son, even for a second, the grief of death and burial, the seeming end of life in death. She may have tried to understand resurrection when her son spoke about it. It didn’t take away the pain of watching her only son die.
Was there anything good about the Friday for her? No. This was the day her world shattered. This was the day she watched her son’s closest buddies sell him off, denounce him and abandon him to the fate of the masses. This was the day the people she knew, communed with, went to church with, went to the market with, bought goods and wares from demanded in loud voices that her son be killed. I can imagine members of her family too. This was the day she watched her son die a shameful, most painful death. This was the day she held her dead son in her arms. This was the day she buried her child. Her only child.
What kept her going? What motivated her to walk with Christ in these circumstances?
Love? Maybe. The love of a mother for her children is a great motivator. Psychologists say an empty core is a great motivator. But a core full of love, is a greater, probably the greatest motivator of all. She loved her son to death.
Faith? Maybe. She believed in the resurrection. She believed in the salvation story as her son had revealed to her. She believed her son. She believed He was doing the right thing. She believed He was doing the will of God the father. And she loved the son she believed in. And in this love, she could bear it all.
Hope? Maybe. She hoped that when all is over, something good will come out of it.
Many mothers will confess to the confusion of parenting, the self doubt of whether I am doing the right thing, the self questioning of whether they are doing enough, being enough. The crossroad of sacrifice between personal growth and commitment to presence in the children’s lives. It is a journey of constant decision making. It is a life of twenty four -seven commitment to the well being of the children. Emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual. Was Mary a mother in all human sense? Yes. Mary inspires us, in this difficult journey of good Friday to parent with Hope, faith and Love.
Mothering in Hope calls us to the awareness that there is something bigger to parenting. It reminds us on the purpose of creation. That while the children were in our wombs, God commissioned them to a life of Purpose. We parent in hope that that purpose shall come to pass. Will that purpose be a bliss? Christ’s purpose was to suffer and die for the salvation of many. It was a difficult purpose for both mother and child. But by grace they both embraced the purpose and lived it to the end. Hope helps us to live in quiet peace that something good comes out of our efforts. That we are participating in something bigger. We are a part of God’s purpose of creation.
Mothering in faith calls us to believe in God’s presence and constant participation in our parenting journey. We are co parents to He who parented our children first. When It gets tough, may we believe in He who first loved them.
Mothering in Love calls us to just love our children, the best way we know how. Physically, by ensuring they are always provided for, a home, a roof, clothes, caring for them when they are ill, correcting them with empathy and love, walking with them in their life adventures. Mothering in Love demands just our presence and our best in whatever status of physical, mental and emotional state we are in. Children perceive love from what they see us doing and being when we are with them. If they are reading love, what are they reading as love in everything that we do? Love is a great motivator. May we love them enough to manifest love to the generations of people they will ever come in contact with.
Pain, brokenness and betrayal and even death did not stop Mary from being a mother. May we remember this because, motherhood, in as much as it is a lovely, fulfilling and happy journey, might bring us to spaces of pain, brokenness, betrayal and even death. Death as we live, and death in death itself. May we remember to keep being a mother, even when being a mother is very very difficult.