Freedom and sacrifice

6th Character in our Lenten Journey

Mary appears as a paradox because she embodies what we might call “willed-passivity” or “active-obedience”, which disposes her to harmony with divine freedom rather than  freedom” as autonomy, which may even be a connotation for rebellion. But especially in the Gospel of Luke, the explicit definition of a disciple is the one “who hears the word of God and acts on it”.

Beginning with her very first action in the Gospel of Luke, Mary shows herself to be one who is free to wait and to reflect.  Maybe it is that capacity for reflection arising from the attentiveness to the will of God which renders her free.  Yet, this attentiveness does not entail a total understanding.  As a matter of fact, Mary undergoes a journey of discipleship in which she grows, and she does not do this alone.  This is especially evident in the Gospel according to Luke. From the very moment of the birth of the promised Messiah and the visit by the shepherds, to the presentation of Jesus at the temple we see a person who reflects and contemplates on the events surrounding her and her son.  Most importantly, thanks to the interventions of these different people in her life, she is able to contemplate this mystery even deeper.

How free is she really?  Well, if we step outside of the Gospel according to Luke for a moment and move into John’s, we are given an image of just how much freedom Mary exercises when she has everything to lose. In the Gospel according to John, those who are closest to Jesus are next to him while he is on the cross (in the synoptic Gospels, they are all off at some distance). At the foot of the cross is a small company that includes the beloved disciple and Jesus’s mother. Upon that cross is the child Mary was promised, the one whom she received when she trusted in God’s word, the one for whom she had sacrificed control of her life. He is the one she was promised. And what does he say to her? He tells her to take another as her son. In this most urgent moment, when the temptation to grasp her son is at its greatest, she exercises the power to let him go and to receive the one he gives her.

In hearing the Word of God, Mary displayed the freedom from fear, presumption, and pride. In acting on the Word, Mary displays the freedom for making a sacrifice, taking responsibility, and bearing the cost of love. When she said “I am the Lord’s servant … May your word to me be fulfilled” (Lk 1:38), she followed through on that “yes”, all the way to the end.

You can pray together as a family during Holy Week by following different prayerful experiences that are offered here.

Saint John the Evangelist describes the scene of the Crucifixion of Jesus in his Gospel. He writes:

 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, […]. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

During Jesus’ great agony on the cross, his mother was present.

Mary was present in Jesus’ life from it’s very beginning to its very end. Mary had accepted Angel’s invitation to be the Mother of Jesus. She carried Jesus for nine whole months as a baby in her womb and gave him birth in Bethlehem. She cared for Jesus as a young boy and took care of him as a teenager.

Mary stayed with Jesus even during his Passion, crucifixion and death on the Cross

Mary was also present in Jesus’ public life when he visited different towns and villages proclaiming the Good news, healing people and calling them for conversion. Imagine, how many people would have asked Mary to speak to Jesus on their behalf, as she did at the Wedding of Cana. Mary stayed with Jesus even during his Passion, crucifixion and death on the Cross. Mary is always present in the life of Jesus. As we read in the Gospel, Jesus gave us Mary as our Mother when he said to the beloved disciple: “Here is your mother.” The disciple whom Jesus loved, represents all humanity and all the Church. He represents me and you, under the cross.

Mary is your mother, she loves you and she is always at your side. She is present in your joys and sorrows. Today, speak to her in the depth of your heart and ask her to stay always by your side as she stayed beside Jesus, under the cross, and don’t forget to turn to her when in need!

While drawing the picture of our Lady of Sorrows, we think of all mothers and of all those women who would like to be mothers: we pray that they too, like Mary, stay close to Jesus all of their lives.

This is the sixth figure from Jesus’ Passion that we are discussing during this Lent. Visit the site again next week to learn about other figures, and by the end of Lent you would have the entire scene of Jesus’ crucifixion!

Lent with Father John

Lent with Brother Francis

Lent Daily Videos

Life of Jesus Videos

For more videos about the Lenten season, please click here.