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Michaelangelo's Pieta

Pieta

by Patricia Fitzsimmons

Simeon's prophesy to Mary, "A sword shall pierce your heart," found fulfillment in the Passion and Death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Because of the depth of Mary's love, His suffering became hers. At the Thirteenth Station of the Cross, Jesus, having given up His spirit, was taken down from the cross. His bleeding body was laid in the arms of the woman who loved Him. What could she have been thinking as she sat trying hold in her arms the dead weight of a lifeless body I can only speculate upon her thoughts and I do so out of the agony I feel when I behold the unhappiness I sense behind the empty eyes of the people who live in darkness; a world without Christ.

This God-man was such a gentle soul, like a lamb in the springtime of His years. She had known the intensity of life in Him at birth, and she shared His passionate love, a love of depth and breadth to encompass the salvation of all human beings. Yet, how He had suffered because of the injustice of social sin. She knew this pain as if it were her own. The fervor of her first born was with her still. He had told her that many of His followers would not hear the Good News of salvation. Some would never learn of the forgiveness of sins. She recalled His words that there were people who would never accept Him as the Messiah. She cried when He told her of how many would be lost, people turning away in fear, destroying their life and the lives of others in the process. These poor tormented people would be the very same ones to crucify Him.

To bear the anguish of the scourging of her Son, the insults from the crowd as He walked to Calvary, and the terror of His Crucifixion, was almost too much for Mary. She believed with all her heart in His mission, for He had revealed to her the purpose of His suffering. However, the moment He was laid in her arms, heavy with death and seemingly a failure, was the moment she thought her heart would break. There were no inspiring words from a dead man. Silent, lifeless, the Spirit of God had departed from Him. He could give her no hope.

His head dropped across her shoulder as she began to wail with the anger and grief of this injustice. "Why" She must have cried out to the crowd, "why did you take Him away from me" She began to clutch her Son drawing Him close to her and rocking Him back and forth like she did when He was a young child. "Oh God," she moaned, had He failed She had given her Son life, nurtured His body with her own, and supported Him with her love. And now, as she gazed into the shallow eyes of a dead man, she faced a moment of panic, for her Son had been her light in the world.

Fear of abandonment swept in tormenting her as she fondled His blood stained face and caressed His matted hair with a mother's touch for the last time. She began to feel her stomach tightening up with the pain of emptiness. Bone of her bone, flesh of her flesh, she longed for some connection with her beloved. Glancing up to heaven, she scanned the black sky in vain for some sign of blue. Had Yahweh abandoned her She was alone, weak, and overwhelmed with the terror of powerlessness.

Caught up in the ambiguous transition between death and life, Crucifixion and Resurrection, this was a moment of brutal anxiety for Mary when she faced the possibility of loosing hope. Was this some kind of test Where was her God Faith held the answer; it was the strength of faith in the promise given to her ancestors. Her tears fell like raindrops upon His lifeless face washing off the stains of persecution. Would Yahweh forget the people in this darkest of hours She remembered Yahweh's faithfulness and believed in the covenant with the people of God. Out of the chaos there had to be new life. She struggled to let go, trusting in the unconditional love of her God. She returned again to the core of her being, into the deep womb of her existence, where the presence of God could be discovered in the wellspring of her own wholeness.

Joseph of Aramathea beckoned to Mary suggesting that it was time to move the body to the garden tomb. So, she pondered, He was to be laid to rest in a garden, How Jesus loved the garden, ever the symbol of new beginnings, of new growth. Suddenly the song of the Turtledove broke through her silence just as the rock was rolled in place before the tomb. This was a morning dove, and she remembered the early years with her Son. The wonderful times that they would sit together at the window waiting for the sunrise, or watching a bird build a nest, seemed to come back to her for some unknown reason. Mary remained motionless, lost in the mystical splendor of the moment and the peace of the garden. The suffering she had endured was only a part of her journey, for she knew His peace now, a peace beyond all understanding. She would carry it to His disciples who awaited her return in the upper room. Yes, Jesus would have wanted her to bring the Good News of hope to a troubled world.

Patty Fitzsimmons, (now Patty Fitzsimmons-Snyder) has created a web site entitled: Transformation Center for Family Spirituality As she explains: "We invite you to join us and participate in a new understanding of a spiritual vision and intentional lifestyle for authentic family living in the twenty first century."

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