Wednesday, March 05, 2008

4th Station: Jesus meets his mother

I could not believe it when I saw him. I had not been present in the Upper Room when they went to celebrate the Passover. After all, it was a man’s occasion. I don’t mean that the celebration of the feast is only for men, only that Jesus was together with his closest disciples, who are all men, so that even though I am his mother, I would have felt out of place. It was much easier for me to stay in Bethany with Martha, Mary and Lazarus who are, by now, very lose friends. We had a peaceful, pleasant meal, only slightly tinged by anxiety caused by knowing that the clouds were gathering ominously around Jesus. He had stirred up such antagonism amongst the Temple authorities that we knew it was only a matter of time before they found some way of acting against him.

Of course, we knew that the High Priest would be forced to be surreptitious in whatever way he decided to remove Jesus from the scene. In daylight hours, too many people surrounded Jesus, finding hope and encouragement in his words. There were too many who wanted to see him perform another miracle.

No, Annas and Caiaphas would be forced to act under the cover of darkness against my Son, who had dared to describe them as ‘whitened sepulchres’ and a ‘brood of vipers’. They must also have been angry when Jesus disturbed the business of the moneychangers and the vendors of sacrificial animals within the temple precinct. This was such a source of income for them. No wonder I felt sick with dread when the tale reached me, describing all that Jesus had said and done. The one who related the event did so with huge enjoyment, not knowing the effect he was having on me as the mother of the man who had thrust himself onto the centre stage in righteous anger. The storyteller had only been aware of Jesus doing something with which he had been in full agreement. We all knew the corruption, as well as the sanctity, within the Temple walls.

It was John who came rushing to Bethany to tell me that Jesus had been arrested and taken to Herod. Poor man! He must have run the whole way, for it took a while for him to recover his breath sufficiently to tell us the dreadful news.

Martha and Mary were wonderful, immediately taking charge of everything. I was grateful because. For a short time, I was immobilised, filled with shock and terror on behalf of my son.

Lazarus could not come with us. Although he was now in full health after Jesus brought him out from the tomb, his celebrity status would hinder, rather than help us, once we reached Jerusalem. Everybody would want to see the man whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

John, Martha, Mary and I set out immediately for Jerusalem, calling briefly by the house where we knew Mary Magdalen had been sharing the Passover with some family members who live close to Bethany.

It was a terrible journey, even if not a long one. We were all so frightened for Jesus that there was very little conversation. Even if someone did speak, my mind and heart were so full of fear that I was not a good audience: the thoughts only echoed all that was already passing through my own mind.

As we drew near to Jerusalem, we could hear a low sound, almost a growl, of voices, with one voice periodically rising above the others. It was a sound that filled me with dread because it was one that I had heard before, but this time knew that it was directed against my Son.

The Via Crucis loomed into sight. There was a close-packed bunch of people and I knew exactly who was in their midst.

I have no words to describe my Son, no way in which I could describe what it was like when he looked up and saw me. He was a little boy again. All he wanted was his mother to kiss away the pain, but this time there was nothing that I could do.

The crowd parted to let me pass by. They fell silent, as if they suddenly realised what they had done. It was a silence of guilt and embarrassment. I knew that silence. I had encountered it on so many occasions in Nazareth when a child was bullied and a parent appeared unexpectedly on the scene. It was the same. The bullies surrounding Jesus knew exactly the dreadful suffering that they had inflicted on a man who was my child and would always be my child, even through eternity.

Jesus, my Jesus, for a few seconds, I held you close to me and I heard a single sob force its way to the surface. Was it yours or mine?

After those brief moments, the soldiers forced us apart. They were not rough, but they were not exactly gentle either. They had a job to do and our meeting was only an interruption on the road to Calvary.

God bless,
Sr. Janet