Mary in Holy Week  

Mary Holy WeekMary is the lonely, sad, pitiful figure of Holy Week.  She is the one who might almost be forgotten but is nevertheless central to the events of that week and to our understanding of it. Mary is the woman on whom God relied for our Redemption.

If we journey through the events of Holy Week, we can picture her there, though her presence is often undocumented.  It is accepted by many scholars that Mary was probably present at the Passover meal that was to become the ‘Last Supper’.  She surely witnessed the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, the betrayal by Judas and the command to ‘do this in memory of me’.  Her presence was a silent presence, which was important to her Son and to the disciples of Jesus.

How dreadful it must have been for her, witnessing the trial of her Son, the mockery to which he was subjected, the humiliation of the One she knew was the Son of God.  Only through the popular devotion of the Stations of the Cross do we see her meeting Jesus as he drags his Cross to Calvary.  Again, she has no words, she is Silent!

We believe through the Gospels that Mary stood at the foot of the Cross as Jesus died.  She uttered no word, but did hear Jesus address her, “Woman behold your son (John)” and to John, “Behold your Mother”.  Even here she is ready in her heart to say once again, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord”.

We are very familiar with the artistic portrayals of the scene when Jesus is taken down from the Cross and laid on his mothers’ lap.  Michelangelo’s Pieta is perhaps the known of these.  ‘Pieta’ means full of grief, and if we look closely at the sculptor we notice that the figure of Mary here is twice the volume of that of Jesus – a figure large enough to bear the tremendous grief and one strong enough to support the suffering of Jesus and the sufferings of the Church.  

So, Holy Week for Mary is one of pain, of sorrow, of heartbreak, of loss, of torment and grief.  But all the time she is the silent one, bearing it all in her heart and living out the prophecy of Simeon, “and a sword shall pierce your own soul too.”

Mary is given to us, during Holy Week, as a model.  She will show us the way, she will lead us to her suffering Son and encourage us to persevere in the hope of his promises.

Saturdays throughout the year are devoted to Mary.  After the pain and suffering and devastation of Good Friday only she remained true through the emptiness of the Holy Saturday.  It is because of this that she surely experienced all the more deeply and joyfully the Glory of the Easter Day.