CONSIDERATIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
“Behold thy Son! … Behold thy Mother!”
All antiquity asserts that St. John was ever a virgin, and especially on this account was he given as a son to Mary, and honoured in being made to occupy the place of Jesus Christ; on which account the holy Church sings: “To John, a virgin, He commended His Virgin Mother.” And from the moment of the Lord’s death, as it is written, St. John received Mary into his own house, and assisted and obeyed her throughout her life, as if she had been his own mother. Jesus Christ willed that this beloved disciple should be an eye-witness of His death, in order that he might more confidently bear witness to it in his Gospel, and might be able to say: He that saw it hath given testimony (Jo. xix. 35). And on this account the Lord, at the time when the other disciples abandoned Him, gave St. John strength to be present until His death in the midst of so many enemies.
But let us examine more deeply the reason why Jesus called Mary woman, and not mother. By this expression He desired to show that she was the woman foretold in the Book of Genesis, who would crush the serpent’s head: I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel (Gen. iii. 15). It is doubted by none that this woman was the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, by means of her Son, would crush the head of Satan — if it be not more correct to say that her Son, by means of her who would bear Him, would do this. Naturally Mary was the enemy of the serpent, because Lucifer was haughty, ungrateful, disobedient, while she was humble, grateful, and obedient. It is said, She shall crush thy head, because Mary, by means of her Son, beat down the pride of Lucifer, who lay in wait for the heel of Jesus Christ, which means His holy humanity, which was the part of Him which was nearest to the earth; while the Saviour by His death had the glory of conquering him, and of depriving him of that empire which, through sin, he had obtained over the human race.
O suffering Mother, thou knowest that I have deserved hell; I have no hope of being saved, except by the merits of the death of Jesus Christ. Thou must pray for me, that I may obtain this grace; and I pray thee to obtain it for me by the love of that Son Whom thou sawest bow His head and expire on Calvary before thine eyes. O Queen of Martyrs, O advocate of sinners, help me always, and especially in the hour of my death!
God said to the serpent: I will put enmities … . between thy seed and her seed. This shows that after the fall of man, through sin, notwithstanding all that would be done by the Redemption of Jesus Christ, there would be two families and two posterities in the world, the children of Satan signifying the family of sinners, his children corrupted by him; and the children of Mary, signifying the holy family, which includes all the just, with their Head Jesus Christ. Hence Mary was destined to be the Mother both of the Head and of the members, namely, the faithful. The Apostle writes: Ye are all one in Christ Jesus; and if ye are Christ’s, then ye are the seed of Abraham (Gal. iii. 28, 29). Thus Jesus Christ and the faithful are one single body, because the Head cannot be divided from the members, and these members are all spiritual children of Mary, as they have the same spirit of her Son according to nature, who was Jesus Christ. Therefore, St. John was not called John but the disciple beloved by the Lord, that we might understand that Mary is the Mother of every good Christian who is beloved by Jesus Christ, and in whom Jesus Christ lives by His Spirit. This was expressed by Origen: “Jesus said to Mary: Behold thy son! as if He had said: This is Jesus, whom thou hast borne, for he who is perfect lives no more himself, but Christ lives in him.”
Denis the Carthusian writes that in the Passion of Jesus Christ the breast of Mary was filled with the blood which flowed from His Wounds, in order that with it she might nourish her children. And he adds that this divine Mother by her prayers and merits, which she especially acquired by sharing in the death of Jesus Christ, obtained for us a participation in the merits of the Passion of the Redeemer.
O my advocate, Mary, even now I seem to see the devils, who, in my last agony, will strive to make me despair at the sight of my sins. Oh! abandon me not then, when thou seest me thus assaulted; help me with thy prayers, and obtain for me confidence and holy perseverance. And because then, when my speech will be gone, and perhaps my senses, I shall not be able to invoke thy name and that of thy Son, I now call upon thee — Jesus and Mary, I recommend my soul unto you!