Her mother’s love and her faith in her son kept Mary there when others had fled out of fear for their own lives. It is a sorrowful and tragic scene. Mary could not have understood why Jesus had to die on the Cross and could not have known that he would overcome this apparent tragedy and rise again. Years before, when Mary took the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem, Simeon warned her that “a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:35). At the Crucifixion, that prophecy came true.
We stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday but as we do so we reflect upon Our Lord’s death in the light of the Resurrection. We should be sorrowful but not in the same way as Mary was. Our sorrow should come from knowing that it is our sinfulness that led to Jesus’ death on the cross: “Ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried” (Isaiah 53:4).
But at the same time, as we gaze upon our crucified Lord, our hearts should be filled with awe and hope. We should be overwhelmed with awe because on the Cross the enormity of the love of God for us is made truly manifest. This is what God was willing to do to restore and repair our relationship with Him – truly awesome. And our hearts should be bursting with hope because, unlike Mary, we know that Our Lord triumphs over the Cross and rises again in glory. In doing so he opens the gates to our salvation, to our sharing in God’s life now and for all eternity.
On this Good Friday, in our present situation, we stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross with some fear and trepidation, possibly alone like her, not sure what the future holds. As we do so, let us follow her example and stand by Our Lord with the same faith and trust that she exhibited in her life. Although the journey between them may be a difficult one, Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday.
On Good Friday we stand with Mary at the foot of the cross and gaze up at our crucified Lord. As a young woman she had the faith to say “yes” to God’s will for her when the angel Gabriel informed her God wanted her to bear his Son through the Holy Spirit. Throughout his life, Mary stood by Jesus and on Good Friday she remains with him at the foot of the Cross. In the words of that 13th Century Hymn, the Stabat Mater:
At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.