Let’s use Matthew 5:4 as a starting point for this reflection – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Fr Robert Barron, in his TV series Catholicism gives a very good exposition of this. He suggests we look at that beatitude this way – how happy you are if you’re not addicted to good feelings, because good feelings, pleasant sensations and being comfortable may not be God or lead us to God.
Jesus continually reminds us that as true disciples, we have to take up cross to follow him. Following the Lord is not about feeling good all the time – following the Lord is about focusing on the word of God, following it, spreading it, loving our neighbours, including those we don’t like. In fact, being a follower of the Lord presupposes that we’re prepared to suffer, at least a little, for his sake. It’s not easy but that’s our call to follow the Lord, even all the way to the cross of Calvary.
What does this mean to us now? We all go through suffering, we mourn and have to accompany the suffering of others. These are all difficult to bear and often, we want to run away. But the example of our Mother of Sorrows reminds us that there are times where we have to stay and not run away. To stand, grieving wordlessly at the foot of the cross, having nothing else but our faith and prayers. To have the faith to realise that with every Good Friday, there is an Easter. To pray for the strength that comes from faith that allows us to go beyond just yearning for good feelings and comfort but to be close to God. To hope and wait for better times. In Ecclesiastes 3:1, Qoheleth the teacher reminds us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
We pray for courage to face suffering and mourning, in ourselves, in others. We pray for peace that only the Lord can give. We pray for the freedom to seek God and God alone. It seems apt to end with the prayer from the Collect of the Friday of Sorrows (Friday before Palm Sunday in some countries):
to imitate devoutly the Blessed Virgin Mary
in contemplating the Passion of Christ,
grant, we pray, through her intercession,
that we may cling more firmly each day
to your Only Begotten Son
and come at last to the fullness of his grace.