Thursday, March 18, 2021

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25)

The town of Lourdes, France is a holy town, a pilgrimage site that attracts devout worshipers from all over the world. In the 1850s, a young peasant girl, Bernadette, saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary above the waters of a grotto at the edge of the city. And since that day pilgrims make the trek to drink from the waters that flow down from the Pyrenees mountains and are blessed by the holy presence of Mary.

In college, a friend and I stayed in Lourdes, making it a basecamp while we hiked in the mountains. But we too were also drawn to the waters, into the giant cathedral that towers over the town, and finally up a hill at the edge of town that held the 14 stations of the cross, life size and painted gold.

And I still remember, close to the top of the hill, the station of Jesus being nailed to the cross. What struck me were the characters who surrounded the brutal scene. As one would expect, there were the centurions, the ones raising the hammer and holding Jesus down. But at the head of the cross was a woman. The woman didn’t have a name, but to me it was Mary. Here was Mary, the same Mary who visited young Bernadette and who healed thousands through the holy water, and she couldn’t help her son.

And it made me ponder, perhaps the waters that flowed from that hill, through underground caverns and into the grottos came from Mary. Perhaps they were her tears. Tears that could not save her son in that moment when he was nailed to the cross, but tears that could perhaps save others.

Peace in Christ,

Pr. Dan Joyner Miller