Jesus is placed in his mother’s arms. A mother receives the body of a son. Was it a senseless death, helpless, hopeless. The grief is the same. The wars continue. Today, another Gulf war mother will receive her son’s body. Helpless.
My son has just finished his third tour in the Middle East. I am so thankful that he will come home safely to my arms. There are many mothers who will not be so lucky. Their last visions of their sons and husbands will be in a morgue where the touch will be cold and the loss senseless.
I knew an elderly woman who was dying of cancer. When I visited her once, she said to me, if you come here and feel sorry for me, I don’t ever want you to come back. Feeling sorry for someone is pity, not compassion. Pity puts one in a stance of looking down upon the sick one. Compassion (with – suffering) puts one side by side. This elderly woman had found that the only healing possible in this world of medical miracles is the ability to accept one’s death even as one fights to hang on to life. With this healing comes hope. With this attitude comes compassion. With this inner peace comes resurrection. When this woman died, I was there holding on to her hand. At her funeral, I was there holding her as a pall bearer of life.
In the Pieta, Mary holds her Son on her lap as though he were again a boy she would comfort after a fall. This gives me the inspiration to comfort the mourning, to minister to bereaved families, to keep vigil with those made homeless, orphaned or widowed, disabled or powerless by their experience of war. Unlike many other mother’s I will get to hold my living son.
Jesus, how brutally you were put to death. How gently you are taken from the cross. Your suffering and pain are ended, and you are put in the lap of your mother. The dirt and blood are wiped away. You are treated with love.
Sometimes we seem to be kinder when someone dies. If only we could learn to see the good things about them while they were alive. If only we would tell those around us how much we love them, while we still have the opportunity to do so.
Help us look for the good in those around us, especially those we love the most. Help us live each day as if it were the last. Help us become more gentle and loving people through our greater appreciation for those around us. Amen.